They say, always begin a relationship the way you mean it to continue. It’s because people quickly grow accustomed to “the deal” they experience early in their relationship with other people. If you open the car door for your future spouse on the first date, be ready to do it forever. If you close your million-dollar order in your first quarter on the job as regional sales professional, be ready for the expectation of a repeat performance in your second quarter.
It’s the same with hiring new employees. Their first days and weeks on the job are critical because those precious early days set in motion expectations — both good and bad — that are hard to retreat from later.
If there is a single most important day in an employee’s tenure in your company, it is their
very first day
. It’s the day that many of the employee’s colleagues will get their first impression. And if there is a prevailing need for that new employee to sense, it will be one of
If your company has a culture of
, a new employee will get a sense of it on the first day. If the culture is one of
, that too will likely be obvious. And whichever one it is will have a profound effect on the new employee for as long as they remain an employee.
A core human need is to belong. We belong to friendships, clubs, families, countries, a marriage, sports teams, and many other possible collections of fellow humans. We can belong to a military unit under fire, or an exploration team traversing Antarctica. What makes a team bond is
. Shared experiences can span decades, as it does in a family, or it might be a single event spanning minutes. An example that springs to mind is the experience of the passengers and crew aboard
, a British Airways 747 that flew through a massive cloud of volcanic ash between the Australian coast and Indonesia; it lost all four engines, causing the plane to plummet almost to the ocean surface before regaining engine power, which was enough to land safely. The most frightening — and most
— part of the flight was the twenty minutes for which the plane was making an unpowered descent; everyone believed they were going to die. Every year, the surviving passengers reconnect to acknowledge their special bond, born of a very lucky escape in June 1982.
Most of us don’t have such terrifying opportunities to bond with others, but we do built lasting bonds — mostly among family, friends and colleagues — that last a lifetime. We
to those units of family and friendships. Belonging is where a lot of our feelings of engagement come from, and it is an essential ingredient in any successful endeavor that relies on a team.
Today’s work place is fueled by such team work, more now than ever before, because complex technology can rarely be handled by a single individual. To keep the new Tesla factory humming, even with its state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, it relies on almost flawless handovers from worker to worker. For each team member to perform at that exceptional level, they must know exactly where they belong within the big picture.
Make every new employee’s first day personal. With a robust internal communications system like PDP’s, you can begin by enabling the personal connection between the new employee and all of his or her new colleagues. Since belonging is the empowering agent of employee engagement, spend that first day getting them fully connected with their new colleagues. Introduce them to the personal details of everyone in the system. Common ground will be discovered, and the process of bonds and friendships of a lifetime can begin.