HIRING

Your First 5 Minutes With a New Hire

To get things off on the right foot, make sure you cover what needs to be said at the start.
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You make a new hire and his first day arrives. What you do and say in the first five minutes sets the stage for the recruit to succeed or fail at your company--so be clear.

OK the following is likely to take more than five minutes no matter what kind of company you run, but what's important is that you cover it right from the start and that the message is clear to new employees and stays with them.

1. Explain expectations. The future of your company rests in the hands of each hire you make--and you often expect new hires to be both willing and able to deliver on an array of duties to make your business grow. While most new recruits are just as excited for the opportunity to demonstrate their many talents, it's crucial to communicate your expectations to the new recruit in no uncertain terms, so he knows what is required of him.

When I hire someone new for my company, I let him know right off the bat the skills I think are important, the rules I expect him to observe, and the way in which he needs to behave to get ahead. An account executive, for example, will hear directly from me that the key to selling well is listening carefully, not pitching.

He will also learn that our day begins promptly at 9 a.m. and distractions such as cell phones and Facebook will not be tolerated, because his customers deserve his full attention.

I also let him know that I expect him to take initiative, whether it be asking for help when he needs it or seeking out knowledge about areas of the company he finds interesting.

2. Review responsibilities. Taking the time to go over a recruit's responsibilities in depth provides assurance to the new hire that you know where the company is headed and how his contributions will make that trajectory possible. It also lays the foundation for good communications early on. An employee who knows what he is responsible for is an employee who is able to gauge his own progress and assess his own success on an on-going basis.

When I hire a new order fulfillment specialist, for example, I go over the software he will be taught to use, how many orders or dollars he is responsible for shipping each day, and the turn-around time that will need to be met in order to deliver customer satisfaction and meet his personal goals.

Giving the employee a snapshot of what information he is responsible for mastering, the daily tasks he is responsible for handling, and the results he is responsible for delivering shows him he has joined an organization with direction and implicates him immediately in its structure.

3. Point out privileges. A new hire needs to know that his responsibilities also come with privileges. It is important to discuss privileges from the start, because new hires need to understand both how privileges are earned, and how long it takes to earn them.

At my company, for example, traveling for the company is a privilege. I tell a new recruit about this possibility from day one--both to discuss his interest in traveling, and also to set the timeline for earning this privilege. Only a staff member who has shown he is able to represent the company and its interests as I would is afforded this privilege. This means not only mastering his specific job, but also having a global understanding of how the company works, and an awareness of our strengths in the industry overall.

It usually takes at least six months before a new recruit would be considered for this privilege. Knowing that in advance allows recruits who are enthusiastic about the opportunity to actively work towards it, and also avoids frustration in the early months wondering if they will ever be given the chance to travel.

4. Reveal rewards. A job well done is compensated by salary. An employee who goes above and beyond his job description is one who should have access to additional rewards. Letting an employee know there is more to be earned when he surpasses his responsibilities and exceeds your expectations is integral to grooming a top-performers.

Saying so the minute a recruit joins your team reassures him that you will pay attention to his contributions. Knowing that you, the owner, will personally be following his efforts gets him motivated to push beyond his comfort zone and thus, to move your company forward in the process.

When I hire a new salesperson, I let him know that his salary includes a commission component so that salary is never capped--but I also explain that in addition to that compensation, we award bonuses based not just on sales performance, but also on the ways in which they shape and better our company.

5. Go over growth opportunities. New hires bring with them excitement and ambition when they join your team. You need to fuel both by immediately giving them a glimpse at opportunities to grow. Let them know that there is more for them than the description of the job they have been hired for--and define what more is at your company.

At mine, which is a relatively flat organization, growth in the form of titles is rare--however, growth in terms of learning and evolution is both abundant and rapid. If you start as a designer, you may one day have the chance to become a part of our buying team--an opportunity that brings with it overseas travel, additional compensation, and increased input into merchandising.

The first five minutes you spend with a new recruit speaks volumes about what you think is important to convey about your company. Taking the time to do so insures that every team member is on the same page as you from the start.

Last updated: Mar 13, 2014

VANESSA MERIT NORNBERG | President, Metal Mafia

In 2004, Vanessa Merit Nornberg opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009.




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