At First Sight

Sweat The Small Stuff

And you can do still more by taking small but impactful steps. Gioia offers up a winning step-by-step formula for making orientations work, both for you and your new hires:

1. Welcome new hires as honored guests. Have the president or top executive personally introduce them to everyone in the company (if small), or if larger, to everyone they'll be working with.

2. Make sure new hires fully understand how their work fits into the company's big picture by letting other co-workers explain their jobs and exactly how the new hires' jobs affect theirs. Essentially, your staff orients the new hires, and, in the process, they're taking the first steps toward creating the working relationships they'll need further on down the road.

3. If orienting five or more new hires at the same time, include something in the orientation they can learn and use on the job. Examples include a two-hour course on time management or a short course on grammar or letter-writing. Why? Research is emphatic in showing that when employees feel they're learning on the job and their employer has invested in expanding their knowledge and skills, they're that much more apt to give their job highly favorable ratings.

4. Include career-pathing where possible by scheduling visits from workers who started in the same positions as the new hires and are now in higher positions within the company. This lets new hires see the next steps on the career ladder, motivating them to do well at their current rung.

5. Use orientation as an opportunity to reinforce the decision to take the job by acknowledging that the new employee made the right decision in joining your company. Tell new hires you're going to help them stay marketable, give them the opportunity to grow and all the tools and equipment they need to be successful.

6. Give them something tangible (with the company logo) that makes them feel good and that they can use at their desks in the office. Like what? Try a paperweight or even a mouse pad. It's a little gesture, but it fosters a certain sense of belonging, and that's crucial in getting new hires off on the right foot.

In addition to these first-day or first-week gestures, don't forget the important job-related instruction that will help cement the relationship. Gioia offers these tips:

  • Clarify expectations you have. Clearly tell employees what's expected of them andguess whatthey'll probably do it. What do you need to do? The direct supervisor needs to say, in writing, here's what we're going to do for you as far as benefits, helping you grow in your job, and so on, and here's what we expect of you: Be on time, give 100-percent effort, and the like. Have the new hire sign it, and you (or the recruit's supervisor) should sign it too. That document in effect becomes a performance contractand everybody likes living up to contracts.
  • The supervisor and the new hire should work together to develop a personal growth program for the individual. Where does the new person want to be in three months, six months, a year? For example, if the employee is in the hospitality field working at the front desk, he or she may want to be cross-trained for the concierge position. This shows the new hire that the company cares about working toward his or her personal goals.

Are these steps worth the effort they'll take? Consider this: How many hours did it take you to hire this new staffer? You know how hard it's become to recruit good people in today's tough marketand that's why there's no longer any question that putting in a few steps at the front end to make the relationship work is just good sense.

"By building positive attitudes and strengthening commitment in your new hires, you'll create a strong foundation for future success," says Hiam. It's truly that simple.

Contact Sources

Alexander Hiam & Associates, (413) 253-3658,

Joyce L. Gioia, (800) 227-3566,

The Hire Tough Group, (877) HIRE-TOUGH,

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This article was originally published in the March 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: At First Sight.

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