How you welcome a new employee on their first day can have a huge impact on their future performance. First impression count, so let's make sure they feel important!
The first day in a new role or at a new work place is always an interesting experience. The way we are welcomed and treated by the organization and by our new boss can tell us a lot about the company and the team we have just starting working with. Are they organized? Were they eager for me to start? Are they interested in me?
Unfortunately, too often a new employee arrives right in the middle of a crisis or a busy week, and we do not make enough time to welcome them and get them up to speed with their team and their new role.
I've personally experienced both types of welcome:
In the first instance I was visited at my hotel the night before my first day by my future boss to make sure I was all set for the week ahead. He gave me a run down of what he had already planned for me to do, and gave me the impression he was organized and excited to see me arrive.
In the second, I had had little contact from the company since my interview, and only the address and date on the letter of offer as information for what to do on my first day. When I arrived, my new boss was on annual leave, and the office manager suggested I browse the intranet on a shared computer as mine had not arrived yet. No one else seemed to know I was even coming.
Although there is much more to long term fulfilment in a role than what you experience on your first day or week, it is true that first impressions count.
Making a new employee feel welcome, important, and organized in their first week should be first priority on your list for the week when that employee starts. You will have known their start date in advance, so you must plan other commitments and meetings around this important period.
The Right Ways to Welcome a New Employee
- If possible, clear your schedule completely on their first day, and leave plenty of time in the remainder of the first week. It is important to spend time getting to know the person as well as being available to assist them in getting set up, meeting people, and understanding their role.
- Introduce them around the site on their first morning. And when you introduce them, talk about what their role will be and mention that you are pleased to have them on board. Even better is to mention their recent history and why they were selected for the role - this helps people remember the new starter a lot better, and understand where they fit in.
- The week before they arrive, plan out work for them, and put a message around to others in the organization to find out if there are any meetings, presentations or other things going on that might interest the new starter.
- Have a schedule planned for their first week and talk through it with them on the first day. Arrange meetings with other managers, peers and support staff and book them in for specific times. Sending the new starter to meetings with other managers or departments also gives you that little bit of time to get your work done too.
- Put in the schedule a half-hour catchup at the start and end of every day, for at least the first week, if not two weeks. You need to stay in close contact with the new starter to make sure any of their issues are attended to, and that they are busy and productive.
The main point though, is that you must make your new team member your number one priority in their first week. Meetings can wait, work can wait.
Getting your working relationship with the new employee off to a strong start will pay huge dividends in the commitment and work rate in the coming months. Make them feel important, listened to, and welcomed.
Good luck, remember, you only get one first day with a new team member - make the most of it!!