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OWNER'S MANUAL

4 Ways to Get a New Employee Off to the Perfect Start
 

That interview you had right before you made the job offer? It's not enough. Here are four things you must do on a new hire's first day.

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You work hard to find, interview, and hire the right employees. They have great skills, great experience, and great attitude.

So once they're hired... turn them loose, right?

Not so fast. Knowing how to do a job is certainly important, but approaching a job with the right perspective and right mindset means everything.

Never assume the conversations you had during the interview process were enough. They aren't. Here are four things to do on the very first day to make sure every new employee gets off to a great start:

1. Thoroughly describe how your business creates value.

New employees need to learn how to do their jobs, but first they need to thoroughly understand your company's underlying value proposition and competitive advantage.

No matter what your business, one or two things truly drive results: Maybe it's quality. Maybe it's service. Maybe you're the low-cost provider. Maybe it's the personal connection you make with each individual customer, and the true sense of community you've worked hard to create.

Other aspects are important, but one or two are absolutely make-or-break.

Start there and then go farther. Explain how their job directly creates value. Explain how their job directly helps your business create and sustain a competitive advantage.

As a new employee I certainly need to know what to do but more importantly, I need to know why I do it.

Always start with why. Then you can move on to what.

2. Map out the employee's internal and external customers.

The new employee may have direct reports. She has external customers, even if she never meets them, and she definitely has internal customers. No job exists in a vacuum; understanding the needs of every constituent helps define the job and the way it should be done.

Take time to explain how the employee will create value for your business while serving all their internal and external customers. Achieving that balance is often tricky--don't assume new employees will eventually figure it out on their own.

Besides, they shouldn't have to figure it out on their own.

3. Set immediate, concrete goals--and start giving feedback.

Successful businesses execute. Your business executes. Set that productivity tone by ensuring every new employee completes at least one specific job-related task on their first day.

Why? Not only do you establish that output is all-important, your new employees go home feeling a sense of personal achievement. A whole day or days spent in orientation is boring and unfulfilling and makes the eventual transition to "work" harder.

Focus on training but make every day a blend of training and accomplishment. Your eventual goal is to train comprehensively by breaking large processes down into manageable chunks.

That way new employees can immediately see how their role directly connects to creating value for your company, and you get great opportunities to provide immediate, constructive feedback--which helps new employees do an even better job of creating value for your company.

4. Explain exactly why you hired them.

Every employee is hired for one or two specific reasons, but often those reasons get lost in all the fluff of the interview process. (Be honest: It's nice to find a well-rounded employee, but most of the time you really need an employee who is a superstar at doing X.)

Sit down with new employees and share the primary reason you hired them. It's a great opportunity to praise their skills and experience, and praise their attitude and work ethic. What new employee doesn't like that? More importantly you reinforce the connection between their skills, experience, attitude, and work ethic and the actual job you hired them to perform.

Don't let new employees lose sight of what makes them different. They have qualities and attributes other candidates didn't. Explain what those qualities are and how they helped you make your hiring decision.

Few statements are more motivating and set the stage better than, "I hired you because you are absolutely awesome at X... and we're all counting on you to crush X."

IMAGE: melindashelton/Flickr
Last updated: Apr 4, 2013

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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