“I’m supposed to start work today,”
the young man said quietly to a worker sitting behind the counter at a
storefront operated by my wireless provider. I was a few feet away waiting for
a diagnosis of the problem with my malfunctioning BlackBerry. The individual he
queried never looked up while asking whether the employer would be the company
whose name was on the store or the tech service. The newbie replied by naming
the cell phone company. “Hey, is there a new employee starting today?”
was called out to no one in particular.
No one took the time to make eye
contact to go along repeated restatements of the inquiry. The flurry of
requests for various people and positions ended when a cheery young manager
arrived to say, “Hi Steve, I’m glad you’re here.” You could see the relief on
Steve’s face. It melted a bit when he was unable to report having received
instructions for the on line time keeping system.
I didn’t catch any more of the day-one
activity, my device was declared irreparable and another was ordered. My replacement
mobile arrived within two days. I wonder if Steve’s new job was progressing as
The first day of a new job is tough.
Between a barrage of unfamiliar tasks, terms, people and rules it’s easy to feel
useless. New hires are welcomed with formal orientation, onboarding or
indoctrination to bring them up to speed. Absent a structured approach, or once
classes end, on the job training can provide an effective mentor or set someone
loose to sink or swim.
The specifics of your approach to
the new hire will vary based on your needs. The worst approach is to do nothing,
waiting to figure it out when the person arrives.
Here are the basics to welcome an
- Communicate the name, position and
start date in writing to staff.
- Schedule a one person welcoming
- Clarify expectations, beginning with
the short term.
- Provide a schedule with milestone
- Follow up to reinforce progress on a
Use these steps as the basis for your
own approach. If you take action before the new hire walks in the door the
person who starts work on January 4th is more likely to be around,
and productive a month later and longer.