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Welcome new employees in style, or else

Posted by | May 15, 2015 | Employer, On Boarding

Via LinkedIn : Years ago I was hired by a very large advertising agency. One of the best in the business. After the morning paperwork session with HR I was escorted to my desk to start my new job. I was nervous, excited, and eager all at the same time. Hell, I now shared a wall with one of the most influential creative officers of all time.

I was ready to roll!

But there it was: an empty workstation. No computer. No chair. No desk supplies. No phone. When I asked where my computer was, I was told there should be a laptop somewhere around for me to use.

What the hell did I get myself into?

Do the right thing:

Flash forward a decade, I now help welcome new employees to our agency. The first day, week, and month is an incredibly important acclimation period – especially for the less seasoned. I’ve learned this firsthand over the years.

Let’s remove ourselves from office for a moment and get out into nature. In our gardens, for example, before a plant can take root and thrive on its own, it needs the right conditions (soil, water, fertilizer, sunlight) and some extra attention. New hires are the same way, and it’s our job as leaders to over-communicate, listen, and help support their curiosities – creating the optimal conditions for growth.

My advice is to assign a clear ‘go to’ person for new hire introductions in the workplace, and dedicate time to support them until they’re humming along. Have this person lead the completion of a comprehensive new hire checklist that includes participation from teammates throughout the company, at all levels.

The secret to success is good leadership, and good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better.”
– Tony Dungy

At a very high level, our new hire checklist at JUXT contains the following, taking place systematically based on urgency over the first few weeks:

  • Basic office rules (an overview of the alarm systems, a tour of the supply closet, instructions on how to get out of the building in an emergency, and the like)
  • HR matters (a dedicated half-day introduction with our HR representative to go over benefits, our employee manual, tax forms, and the like)
  • Computer, phones, and how to work with IT (all sorts of goodies in here like software installation, passwords and management thereof, an overview of the file server, assistance with voicemail and phone setup, peripheral support, and the like)
  • Workspace setup (seeded with initial supplies, a filing cabinet and key, lighting, and the like)
  • Introductory meetings with senior management and “hubs” of the agency (to communicate culture, processes, and the like)

Companies evolve, and so do its processes. I suggest making this a ‘living’ checklist, allowing items to be added or removed over time.

The importance then centers on finding a way of taking the on-boarding process seriously and doing it consistently. What if the “go to” welcomer is on vacation? Explain it to the new hire, and let them know it will be taken care of as soon as that person is back. Just find a way to make it work. Period.

Or else:

What can happen when a new employee goes through a wonky on-boarding process? It’s hard to say. Yes, they’ve committed to joining your company. But they’re still fresh. Roots haven’t taken. If they’re talented and motivated, getting another job is a piece of cake – especially here in the SF Bay Area. Worst case is you’ve seriously burnt a bridge and they’ll quit, and you’ll be screwed. No. Actually, worse case is they’ll quit, you’ll be screwed, and they’ll tell all their industry friends about the terrible experience – tarnishing your image for future hires.

You get nothing! You Lose! Good day sir!”
– Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Did you botch on-boarding with a recent hire? If it’s not too late, own up to it. Get serious about repairing the damage, and promise the employee you’ll make a fresh start. You don’t want any feelings of resentment to slowly grow, which could cripple performance out of the gate before reaching the point of becoming irreparable.

After all the hard work and time invested in recruiting and hiring great talent, be sure to take the time to welcome and introduce them to the company in a way that sets them up for success – or you could be right back where you started, except with a slightly lower reputation as an employer.

It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.

Hit it!

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Michael Polivka is a business leader and transformation specialist with an operational focus on human interaction, awareness, design, and technology. He is the Principal of Operations at JUXT, a San Francisco based marketing and innovation agency and member of SoDA. All postings are his own, yo.

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