New hires can be rewarding – and exhausting.
On the one hand, you’ve got fresh talent to work with and hopefully mold into energetic and productive employees.
On the other, it takes time for them to adjust to you, and you to them.
And guess what? They are watching your every move.
So, first impressions matter. A lot.
But sometimes we don’t think enough about whether we’re making the right first impression on them. And if it turns out to be a bad impression, it has consequences – like that fresh new employee bolting for the door.
So how do we know?
These seven guidelines will help you head that off.
1) Keep Up With Their Progress
By “first impression,” we’re really referring to the first few weeks of a new employee’s experience on the job. It can take time to make an impression when you’re not a new hire’s direct supervisor, or if you oversee a large group.
So, making a point to keep up with the new employee’s progress telegraphs that you really care about how they’re doing, and it puts your face in front of them so they don’t forget it’s you they work for.
It helps them be just as invested in you as you are in them.
2) Show Some Personal Interest
Ed Mitzen, founder of Fingerpaint, says showing more than a passing interest in new employees’ lives goes a long way.
“When you’re meeting someone for the first time, ask ‘Where are you from?’ ‘How long were you with your previous company?’ People like to talk about themselves, and this gives you [a chance] to see how they interact with others. They’ll appreciate you showing an interest in them right away,” Mitzen says.
Also, tell new employees a little bit about yourself, whether it’s pointing out a hobby or sharing a story about your family.
Letting new hires see you’re willing to show them a personal side puts them at ease almost instantly. It reminds them that they’re working for a human being.
3) Follow The Rules (Especially Your Own)
If new employees are repeatedly told about the hard-and-set rules the company keeps, and the ones you’ve laid down, they’ll do their best to see they don’t break them even by accident.
So, if they catch you, the manager, regularly breaking those rules, they’ll think you’re too important to obey like everybody else.
New employees can get a very quick impression of how fair-minded you are if you expect them to follow rules that you flout. This is one of the quickest ways to make a bad impression from the get-go.
Reinforce the rules by being sure to follow them yourself; it tells new employees they apply to everyone.
4) Be Mindful Of THEIR Time
You know you’re busy. They know you’re busy, too. So most new employees are mindful of how much “hand-holding” they need to dive into their new jobs.
Be aware of the time constraints, deadlines and milestones they’re required to deal with to master their new positions.
If you start thinking that your time is more important than theirs, remember that their time is your time; they’re an extension of your “job” just like piled-up paperwork or weekly meetings. Show them you’re willing to help when needed so you don’t impede their progress.
5) Make Patience A Habit, Not Just A Virtue
New employees want to avoid taking up valuable minutes of your day with stupid questions and the stops-and-starts that come with being a rookie on the job.
So when they come to you with questions no one else can adequately answer (and they will), ensure them that you’re there to help. Make it a point to either immediately address them or get back to them.
Appearing impatient with their lack of know-how makes you come across as disrespectful of the time they have to do their jobs. Consider that maybe they went to someone else for help first, and that person told them to see you.
Leadership and hiring consultant Jeff Kortes calls this a part of giving employees (especially new ones) some “C.R.A.P.”: caring, respect, attention and praise. “When your people need you, they need you right away. If you put them off, the likelihood they’ll come to you in the future drops off considerably. Make time [to] understand their problems and help to solve them. Your people will love you for it.”
6) Praise Those Early Milestones
There’s no need to continually praise new employees for basic tasks they do. But when managers take note of a successful “first” – a first sale, a first customer problem solved, a first presentation – it can make a new employee’s day or even their week.
“A little appreciation goes a long way toward keeping people fired up and energized about what they do,” says Kortes. “How hard is to say ‘nice job’ when someone gets you that report on time?”
Just make sure you’re not too liberal with it in the early going, or new hires will start to think everything they touch is gold. That’s one impression you don’t want to give.
“Praise is for when people exceed expectations, not just do their jobs. When they exceed expectations, they need to hear [it’s] a big deal,” adds Kortes.
7) Radiate Positivity (Most Of The Time)
This doesn’t mean you can’t have an occasional grumpy day. It means when you’re in contact with your new hires, approach problems and setbacks as cheerfully as possible.
When they know you can roll with the everyday punches of work life, they know you won’t freak out every time they make an honest mistake or somehow come up short.
Of all possible first impressions, this probably means the most to new employees. It allows them to breathe, and retain confidence that they are free to come to you with problems and questions – and, yes, to screw up once in a while.
* * *
Have a unique step you take to make an impression on your new hires? Share it in the comments section.
Free Leadership Guide
You Can Download
Leadership can come from anywhere. Most often it comes from the ground up, but it can come from any direction. Not just the top down. Need some inspiration, download our free 60–page guide.