Can you imagine bringing a child home from the hospital and only then considering where they might sleep? Or what they might eat, sit on or wear? Of course not. All of this planning is carried out beforehand to make the transition for both the parents and the child as easy and as positive an experience as possible.
The first chapter of my book Making Business Child's Play is entitled Preparing for a new arrival and looks at why what happens at work for new starters is almost always the exact opposite and what we should do differently.
In June 2012, I was offered a new role as the Marketing Director for McColl's Retail Group. Having written my book i had to try and influence my future employer to follow what i advised in chapter 1. I probably drove the HR Director a little mad in the process but I believe the result has been a success.
I had various conversations prior to joining and managed to ensure that when I started i had a comfortable place to "live" with furniture I had chosen,. You may think this is a funny choice of words, but we spend a huge amount of time at work and we have to want to be there and feel comfortable where we sit. This is no different to bringing a new child home from the hospital having ensured they will be comfortable in their new home. When i started, my workstation was completely set up and my computer was waiting for me with an email address and log in details. I had a phone with voicemail activated as well as pens, paper and other stationery including a staff telephone directory, organisational charts and employee handbooks. The company had set up an induction programme including time with all key colleagues and in store. I was also given information to read before i started which meant when I arrived, I could hit the ground running.
One of the things I made sure was that I was provided with business cards on my first day. I attended a conference a few days into joining and the number of people who were surprised by the fact that i had such a good understanding of the company and actually had business cards was amazing. A few even explained that they had been in their roles for months and still didn’t have business cards. This is actually crazy when all the company needs to know is their name, title and contact details, and they know all this before they set foot in the building!
The company also made sure that all administrative forms (pensions, direct debits, life insurance, health insurance, next of kin etc.) were ready to be completed in the first few days. This got all the dull administrative work out of the way early.
When a baby is born, normally the mother and father are there to meet and greet their new arrival along with a whole set of friendly and helpful doctors and nurses. In a similar way, on my first day my boss was there to greet me personally. I was shown my office and taken on an office tour and introduced to as many people as possible as well as being shown where the toilets, photocopiers, mail room and coffee machine were.
So following my own advice and combining it with the processes already in place has meant that my induction has been a great success and after 6 weeks I am already able to operate with a good working knowledge of the business. The best part is that since joining, my colleagues had been very kind and supportive and I feel in a good place to make an impact in the short, medium and long term.
My advice for any company hiring a new starter is to look at this new employee as an opportunity to show off your company. As managers (and as an organisation) you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. As such you have to spend time and effort preparing for a new employee’s arrival to help ensure they are successful in their role.
If you don’t, you would look back and think what a waste of time, effort and money and what a shame that you didn’t harnessed the time when that new member of staff is most keen to learn and impress.