Getting New Employees Off to a Positive Start

The following is a guest article written by Tony E. Trussell of Business Whyse


Strong Emotions + First Impressions = Attitude (Good or Bad)

Emotionally charged experiences create lasting memories.  It has been 50 years, but I still remember kissing Peggy behind the lilac bush on our way home from 5th grade like it was yesterday. The experience was scary, exciting and pleasant all at once. First days at a new job are like that first kiss, scary and exciting. Smart employers make sure it is also a pleasant experience because they know first impressions plus high emotions make for lasting impressions.

Strong Emotions + First Impressions = Attitude (Good or Bad)
Smart employers consider attitude, alignment, and ability when screening prospective employees. They understand that attitude is important because it can and does contribute in significant ways to performance. They also understand a great first day, first week and first month will lock in positive attitudes for long time. Here are few tips to get employees off to the best possible start.

Onboarding is like teaching someone a complicated game. There is too much information to absorb in one sitting.  It takes time and repetition

In Advance of the First Day

  • Send routine paperwork out ahead of time so they can work on it at their convenience.
  • Be ready, organized, and intentional. Create a written orientation plan and send it to them.
  • Clean and organize their workspace. Provide all the tools they will need to do their work. This includes phone, e-mail, business cards, and office supplies.
  • Provide their job description/resume to all co-workers and managers and discuss how they will interact with their new co-worker.
The First Day
  • Be available, minimize interruptions and distractions.
  • Cover all the basics, even restroom locations.Assume they know nothing.
  • Review their role and explain how it contributes to good work.
  • Introduce them to the people who will train and mentor them.
  • Create a meaningful task (or several) for them to complete and make sure they succeed.
  • Take them to lunch and take a sincere interest in knowing them on a personal level.
The First Week
  • Explain company/department work flows from beginning to end.
  • Introduce them to all co-workers and managers and insist current employees explain how they contribute to good work and how they might interact with their new co-worker.
  • Create social opportunities for co-workers to get to know each other on a personal level.
  • Review the rules, written and unwritten.
  • Provide written reference documents for everything.
The First Month
  • Arrange for them to shadow people in the job roles with which they will interact.
  • Check back often, revisit the written plan and help as need be

While the benefits of a positive attitude are apparent to employers, few take the time to invest in making a first impression that ensures new employees begin their new role with the best possible attitude. A positive attitude will translate into performance in the short-term and long-term.

Tony E. Trussell is a business coach at Business Whyse | Management Consulting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.