What to do in the first week to ensure the right start

The first day of an employee could be the most memorable and perhaps most stressful day for the employee as well as the employer.

 

For a new employee as well as the firm, initial impressions are important. At the extremes, for employees, their first week at work can be exciting enough to aspire for a long-term career at the firm or could also make them question their decision to join the firm. Within the first week, the first day also could be the most memorable-and perhaps the most stressful-day of their career. Here are a few things that organizations should do in the first week of hiring:

 

Make it as personal as possible: For the organization, this is the right opportunity to learn more about the employee than it was possible during the interview process. Organizations can assign each new hire a mentor to help the new employee transition into the company smoothly. This will also create a lasting impression on your new hire on how he or she was treated on their first day at work.

 

Reinforce employer brand and values: There is a very strong possibility that the new hire was drawn to the firm by its reputation, culture and its people brand. Ensure that they get the same experience when they step into office. If you position your company as a great place to work during interviews, or on campuses or your website, ensure that feeling is built into your onboarding process. The employees need to understand and live the values that the firm holds dear. A mismatch is better caught early than late.

 

Invite your employee to "join the circle": This is also a good time to tell your newly hired employee where he or she can help reinforce the employer brand and where opportunities exist to amplify employer brand with their personal brand. Remember your employee can be your biggest brand ambassador.

 

Help new hires understand the foundations of success: The organization's onboarding program should cover the firm's overall vision and mission to make them understand the focus and the priorities of the teams. Once the employees understand how their aim is aligned with that of the firm, they will be focused on delivering to the best of their ability.

 

Help them know their individual goals, assessment criteria and career path: New hires will better understand their job responsibilities and assessment criteria when the organization takes them through their individual roles and responsibilities, their career progression and performance appraisal process. Managers can step in here to help the new hire understand how decisions are made as well as career progression for their respective roles.

 

The employees need to be made aware of the resources available in the firm-people, tools and programs-available for accelerated learning. However, it's essential to ensure the employees don't get overwhelmed by the information in the first couple of days. Role playing can be an engaging way of helping people get acquainted with expected behaviours.

 

Help them understand and appreciate the impact of their job: If new employees immediately know "why" their work is important, they are more likely to be productive and focused. Their Professional Development Manager should make sure that the new hire understands the importance of their role and also the impact on their team's performance and the company's growth.

 

Now moving on the other side of the coin, some key points an employee must keep in mind during their first week:

 

Dress well: How you present yourself says a lot about your personality. Dressing well helps create a professional impression. You are the brand ambassador of your firm and the way you project yourself, projects the culture of your workplace.

 

Be a people's person: Introduce yourself to the people you come across in your organization. Do not hesitate to have a conversation with your new team members. First impressions do matter. Use generic topics as conversation starters-for example, the positives of the job, the people around you, the city, the place you stay at, etc.

 

Office space and resources: You need to understand your workplace for your convenience. The better you know your workplace, the more engaged you will be. Speak to your colleagues and know more about your workspace.

 

Listen and observe: One of your most important objectives during the first week must be to familiarize yourself with the company culture, your department and your goals and responsibilities. Attending orientation programs in addition to all the team and office meetings can be of great help. Participating in informal colleague meetings will help you bond with them.

 

Ask questions: As you learn more about the role, projects and people, don't be afraid to ask questions. It might be a good idea to take notes about everything you learn, even if it seems simple. Documenting your queries will ensure you don't ask the same question twice.

 

Speak up: At the same time, don't be afraid to contribute and add value to your new organization. Actively participate in team meetings and brainstorming sessions. If you have a skill or an ability on the basis which, you've been hired, share that knowledge and experience with the team.

 

Offer help: Don't sit around and wait for the team to decide the task for you. Being proactive and volunteering to help your new teammates on a project will go a long way. This will project you as a self-motivated employee and help you build a rapport with your boss and colleagues. This will also help you learn more about your job expectations, culture and how things are done in the organization.

 

Find a mentor: This may be underrated, but it's crucial to find a mentor in any of your seniors who has been the firm for a few years. It could be your manager or your peers from the same or even a different department. Their experience will come in handy when dealing with crucial situations.

 

Keep your bosses in the loop: Throughout the first week, and the rest of your tenure at work, ask for periodic meetings with your boss as per their convenience. In addition to getting their direction on projects and tasks you have been assigned, you can also use this face time to update him/her on your learnings and observations.

 

Don't compare: Never compare your last job to your current one. Deciding to switch jobs was your decision. There is a difference between expectations and reality. However, if there is a massive change in role, talk to your manager and look for a solution. Those pursuing their first job must go with a clear mind.

 

 

 

 

Abhijit Nimgaonkar is Principal at ZS Associates. He has a Master's in Management from Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani India.

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