Monday, August 30, 2010

First Impressions, Make an Impression

If you were going to give someone $20,000 or more to do some work for you, would it be wise to tell them early what you want done?

If you are a Manager, your first day on your first job may have been some time ago. You may have had a few first days, since then.

Think back, however. How were those first days? Were you,
  • welcomed, briefed on priorities, oriented effectively to begin learning the job, or,
  • ignored, shuffled off to the side, and eventually tossed into the job, or, overwhelmed with information, (some valuable, some not), and then tossed into the job.

What was the impact on your motivation, commitment and success?
When asked, many employees identify with the latter rather than the former. (In fact, some indicate it was so bad they just never went back the second day.)

These are obviously extremes, however, but they alert us to the fact that, if employee motivation & performance are organizational priorities, most firms are blowing a superb opportunity for influence on new employees.

Think about it,
  • When are employees more likely to listen to guidance, the first weeks, after six months?
  • When is the best time to coach expected behavior and performance expectations?
  • When are they making the least contribution to the job and most easily spared?
  • When is the best time to establish employee-supervisor communication patterns?

On the other hand, Top Employers, recognize,
  • Orientation as a critical opportunity to influence employees the right way,
  • That newcomers have basic, socialization needs to meet, before learning occurs,
  • That a poor orientation can de-motivate newcomers, or worse, result in turnover,
  • That effective learning occurs gradually, step by step over time, not in one day,
  • That having a plan and a variety of orientation methods accelerates learning,
  • That organizational values & expectations need to be reinforced early,
  • That essential performance consultations need to begin early,
  • That first impressions are lasting impressions.

Not having a solid, effective orientation plan is like having a leaky faucet getting worse. You can live with it, but it can be expensive in the long run.
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