In her book You’ve Only Got Three Seconds, Camille Lavington writes that people form a permanent opinion of you based on a very brief initial impression. The same phenomenon can occur when fresh hires show up to their first day at a new job. If things go well, they may return home brimming with enthusiasm for this next phase in their life. And if things don’t go well, a seed can be planted. This seed whispers that they've made a terrible mistake.
As an owner or manager, here are five steps that can help ensure a positive outcome for the people you’ve spent so much time and energy hiring.
Be Prepared for Arrival
HR may offer an orientation session, but that doesn't let you off the hook. You should be on top of exactly what will happen on your new hire’s first day. Have a workspace, supplies and any IT functionality ready for them, and make sure someone can greet them and show them around right away. Don't have them start on a day when their immediate supervisor (or worse, everyone with whom they'’ll work) is out of the facility—leaving them to stare at the four walls in a general state of confusion.
Do an Expectation Bootcamp
Managers can consider many aspects of work life—such as how to dress, when to arrive at the office and how to greet the CEO or owner—common sense. The reality is that many new hires, especially young ones, may not understand these basics. Take your rookie to lunch or coffee and lay out protocols with respect to culture, time, communication and behavior. For example, if it’s not acceptable to wander in at 10:30 a.m. even if you’ve worked until midnight the evening before, say that outright. Your rule of thumb should be, when it doubt, spell it out.
Assign a Buddy
Every new hire should be paired with a happy and satisfied employee in a similar life stage, ideally a year or two ahead of the hire in rank. Task the seasoned employee with helping the new hire get acclimated, answering questions and incorporating them into the office’s social scene. Your new hires may form their strongest opinions of your workplace based on their peer relationship with this individual, so try to make it a good one.
Set Up In-Person Touch Points
In addition to the core buddy, your new hires should be exposed to a variety of can-do employees during their first day. Set up one-on-one, 30-minute meetings for new hires to chat with the stars who make things happen in your workplace. Not only can this instill confidence that they have the right access and tools to do their job effectively, but it can also give them the sense that they're working at an organization with tons of smart, competent and creative people.
Create a Work Plan
No matter the job or role, all employees likely want to feel empowered to make a difference. By the time your new hires arrive, you should have a solid idea of what you expect them to accomplish in their first weeks and months of employment. Try to ensure that your goals involve plenty of challenging tasks and learning opportunities. Go through the plan on their first day and solicit their feedback on the assignments they find most intriguing. A meaningful work experience early on can facilitate a successful transition period.
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