We spend so much time and energy seeking out new staff members for our in-house team—the advertisements, the networking, the many rounds of interviews and portfolio reviews. But the day that new person shows up in our offices, we’re not always prepared for their arrival. My first days on the job have ranged from perfectly choreographed events to others that seem to say, “Oh, YOU’RE here already?” Most employees form deep impressions of their organizations from the first 24 hours, with good reason. Here are a few tips to make that first impression a good one.
1. Make sure new staff have a clean desk fully stocked with supplies, computer hardware and software, and their nameplate outside their office.
If you can order their business cards in time, even better. There’s a lot to be said for those little touches. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though no one expected you, and that you have no way to contribute because your computer hasn’t arrived. One of my good friends started her last job by cleaning out her own office, which had become a dumping ground for old equipment and files; years later, it’s still a sore point. Start prepping that office the day you get the approval to hire someone.
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2. Set up appointments with IT, Accounting, HR and other key departments in advance. Plot out the first week’s schedule for your new staff member, so they have some idea of the structure. We all know that feeling of the first few days—you’re entirely reliant on others, and your fate is completely out of your own control, so any bit of structure is nice.
3. Write down your expectations and talk about them together.
It may seem obvious, but every boss has different expectations of their employees; your new staff member doesn’t know what those are, beyond the basic job description. I have no tolerance for lateness, but some supervisors don’t care. I welcome questions from new employees, at any time, but some supervisors would prefer to meet once a week. I’m glad to hear ideas from new employees because I think they bring a fresh perspective, whereas some supervisors want new employees to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. Unless you present your new staff with clear expectations, they’ll be left to guess what you want, and that’s not good for anybody.
4. Ask your new employee a few questions. What are their expectations of you? Do they prefer to communicate via email or face-to-face? What type of management style do they prefer? Some of these questions may have come up during the interview, but it’s good to revisit them in more detail.
5. Take the new employee out to lunch with your entire team. And pay for it.
If your organization won’t cover the cost, pay for it out of your own pocket. It’ll be worth it.
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6. Lastly, during the first couple of months, check in with your new charge at least twice a week to see what new questions they may have.
If you haven’t changed workplaces in a long time, you probably don’t realize all the questions you had, and all the unspoken rules that you’ve learned along the way. Show your newest employee a little extra empathy in the beginning, and you’ll earn her admiration and respect right away.
Read even more tips on the same theme from Andy Brenits here.
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