One thing we all have in common: We’ve all had the first day in a new job within a new organisation. It can be nerve-wracking, can’t it? It can be a mixture of exciting, stressful, strange, disappointing, confusing and anxious too. I remember I once turned up for a first day to discover that the ‘Personnel Officer’ (those were the days) had no idea I was coming and so there wasn’t a desk for me and my new line manager was away for a fortnight.
I’ve also started at a job where my desk was ready and waiting, I had a laptop and mobile phone, a new email address already set up and a whole programme of induction meetings and activities laid out for my first couple of weeks (that was here at Babington). I think we all know which situation would be the most reassuring and engaging.
Plenty of clues there then for our top tips:
1. Be ready
You know, or at least the organisation knows, when someone is due to start, so mobilise the troops to prepare every aspect.
2. Welcome them
Simple enough in principle. When will they be arriving? Who will meet and greet them? Where will they park? Remember they may know nothing about the building and little about the organisation and its processes and culture. What they do know may have come from the interview and so may be at best a representation of the truth (and there’s a whole other set of issues to think about there). The first 30 minutes really set the tone, so make it a good experience.
3. Plan the induction period
Many organisations will have some form of induction checklist or process, but you need to think beyond that. The first couple of weeks, at least, need to be scheduled to embed the new person within the organisation, their team, and their role.
4. Think about their role
They aren’t just a generic ‘employee’ of the organisation. They have a specific role with challenges, stakeholders and responsibilities, so don’t just think about the wider policies of the organisation – think about inducting them into the team and the job. Where an organisation has a central HR function this can get lost or overlooked, so plan ahead.
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5. This isn’t just about legal obligations
With so many regulations, policies and the need to generate ‘evidence’, the induction can become all about the needs of the organisation and the HR function. It needs to think about the employee, their role and the things they’ll need to help them get up to speed and value-adding as quickly as possible. At least 80% of the first day needs to be focused on the job they’ll be doing and what they need to know and understand to do it well.
6. Most of the planning needs to come from the line manager
This can all seem like ‘admin’, but it isn’t. The manager needs to see this as part of ‘performance management’, giving the new person the best possible chance of adding real value to the team.
7. The team need to play a significant part
Depending on the nature of the role and how the new person will need to interact with their team mates, the team will need to play a part in both the preparation for and the execution of the induction period. While the manager needs to lead this, the team need to take over at an appropriate point to embed the new person in team activities and model how they will be working together.
8. The new employee needs to do some preparation too
This isn’t all one-way traffic. The new person needs to take some responsibility too. They need to do some planning of their own and to have a clear idea of what they will do in their early stages. The more significant the role, the more important their initial plans and activity. They will need guidance on what to include and sufficient knowledge to make good decisions.
9. Think about the culture of the organisation and the team
A new person isn’t just being inducted into the job, they are becoming part of a community and a culture. It may be very different to anything they’ve experienced before. Some of it may even come as a shock. I remember being told before I arrived, that everything happens at an incredibly high energy level and speed, here at Babington, which has become second-nature to those inside the culture, so it isn’t always obvious how much of a ‘culture shock’ that might be to a new starter. What’s your equivalent?
10. Engage from Day 1
Most leaders and managers are now aware of the importance of engagement in getting the best from their people. If this has passed you by, you might begin by doing some reading around employee engagement and look at the ‘Engage for Success’ website and resources. It is imperative that you begin to engage the new person in the vision and purpose of the organisation in the first hours so that they become engaged and committed to what the organisation is trying to achieve and are constantly reinforced in their drive to contribute. The line manager needs to keep their foot on the gas here too and stay in contact regularly.