Why First Impressions Really Do Count for Your New Recruits

The First 100 Days in a New Job

I’m sure we all have a story about that great candidate we hired who didn’t quite turn out as well as we’d hoped, or that great employee we hired who left after a few short months, however I wonder what the employee would say about their own experience?

"It was nothing like they described it would be in the interview" perhaps? Or how about - "the induction consisted of; here’s your desk and here’s your phone – get on with it"!

I used to give every candidate I placed my ‘First 100 Days in a New Job’ document to try and help them get off to the best possible start and reaffirm to their new employers that they’d made the right decision in hiring them, however I woke up one morning and realised that hiring managers and Directors are just as likely to mess things up as their new employees are!

Most businesses breathe a huge sigh of relief when their new recruit turns up for their first day at work, but you don’t want a new recruit – what you want is a happy and engaged employee. 
It's what you do with them once you've got them that determines success, not what you did to get them there in the first place; getting a new recruit to turn up for their first day at work is a job half-done! 

Are talented new recruits checking you out just as hard, if not harder than you’re checking them out?

You’d better believe they are and if they don’t like what they see, they might just vote with their feet and in the current employment market, there’ll be no shortage of suitors willing to take them off your hands at the first available opportunity!

This being the case, showing them to their desk or workstation and giving them a cursory half day’s induction training just isn’t enough - you must have a robust and structured plan in place for the first 100 days which includes regular formal and informal communication and review sessions, as well as revisiting the culture and values conversations you had with your new employee during the interview process in order to ensure that you get off to the best possible start.

If your new employees were new customers, would you want their first experience of working with your company to be a great one, or a rubbish one?

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) estimates that 20% of new recruits who leave a job within the first 6 months do so because of a very weak, or non-existent induction training program and I read somewhere recently that 48% of new employees think they’ve made a mistake in joining their new employer before they get to the end of their 1st day in the new job.

Put it another way - 48% of new employees start thinking about their next job, before they’ve finished day 1 in their new job; what a damning indictment of their new employers’ induction process!

The first 100 days of employment represents a golden opportunity for you to convince your new recruits that they’ve made the right decision in joining your organisation, however some companies manage to kill their new employees’ enthusiasm stone dead before the end of their first day in the job!

As management consultants McKinsey observed, great employees are your passport to market share and profitability, so it's imperative you ensure that your new recruits' 1st day in their new job is the best day at work they’ve ever had!

If there are things you need to organise, such as e-mail accounts, workstations, company cars, business cards or laptops etc. make sure they’re ready and in place for your new recruit starting with your organisation. Nothing is more likely to make a new employee feel unwanted and abandoned than turning up for their first day at work, only to find that their new employer isn’t sufficiently organised, or interested enough in them to ensure that things are ready them starting.

I once heard starting a new job likened to waking up in a stranger’s house...

- it’s easy enough to find your way to the kitchen or the bathroom, but finding out where the tea and sugar are kept and how everything works is somewhat harder!

Most new recruits will be eager to impress from day 1, but remember, they might also be feeling somewhat nervous or apprehensive about starting a new job, meeting their new colleagues and finding out how things work in your organisation.

It’s a part of our make-up as humans to feel a sense of belonging, and your new recruits will become more effective once they’ve established relationships with their colleagues. This being the case, you should ensure that you introduce your new recruits to whoever they’ll be interacting with on a regular basis as soon as possible after they’ve started.

You might also like to consider giving them a ‘Buddy’ for their first week, or couple of weeks, so they have a ‘Go To’ person when they have a question, rather than trawling round the office trying to establish who the right person to speak to is, which could be irritating to their colleagues and undermine the confidence of the new recruit. It’s not unusual for new recruits to bring with them perceptions and practices which might have worked perfectly well in their previous company, but might be wholly inappropriate in their new one.

This being the case, rather than complaining about it, use the time in your regular formal and informal communication and review meetings to flag up any behaviours and perceptions you may need them to change.

During the interview process, you will have shared the focus and requirements of the role with your new recruit, however, it is vitally important to meet with them on day 1 to re-confirm and re-clarify what needs to be done and in what order, so that they fully understand what is expected of them and what success in the role looks like in the early stages of their employment with you.

Be careful to ensure that what what you ask of them is sufficiently challenging to stretch them, but not to the extent that it is unachievable and effectively sets them up to fail.

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