First Impressions

Imagine that you’ve been searching for a long time for a new job. While you’ve been hunting for weeks, your bills have been piling up, and you’ve been working hours on end doing nothing but filing resumes and networking, but you finally found something. New hire paperwork in hand, you head to your new job, and you’re excited to start working. But, When you get there, the receptionist points you to your desk. As you walk to the desk, you notice that there’s a computer monitor on it, but no keyboard or mouse. Stuck to the monitor, is a note…


How do you feel right now?
What would you do?

Have you ever heard the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” This adage is frequently used adage is most often applied to people who are hunting for jobs and interviewing. However, if you’ve put yourself in the shoes of the employee in this true story from a consulting engagement regarding employee on-boarding, you’ll realize that the organization failed at its chance to make a first impression.

The entire focus of employee on-boarding (or socialization) is to transform an employee from an outsider to an insider. While you might take an employee through a checklist of different things in your on-boarding program, a successful socialization experience involves an employee who answers the question, “Do you feel like you are a part of the organization?” with a resounding “yes!” When an employee can answer that way, research has found that he or she has more role clarity, job satisfaction, self-efficacy, intention to remain, and social acceptance. While an employee selection system can find the right employees for a job, if those employees have experiences like the one above, the organization may bleed its best talent before it ever has a chance to develop them and eventually face overwhelming dysfunctional turnover.

What can you do?

Here is a worksheet I developed from current research about the best employee on-boarding and socialization programs today. To understand it, you need to understand each of the factors represented on that sheet.

  1. Personalization – Do your employees have a collective–or common–on-boarding experience, or is it more individual or unique?
  2. Formality – Is there a formal sequence to how on-boarding occurs or are new employees just informally tossed into a new job?
  3. Sequencing – Is there a sequential, system process to new employee on-boarding or is is a random experience?
  4. Timeline – Do you know when the employee on-boarding process is complete? That is, is there a fixed timeline for when things take place, or is it variable?
  5. Role-Modeling – Are new employees supported by being given someone to go to when they’re first hired to help them socialize, or are they completely unsupported?
  6. Socialization Feedback – Do new employees have some way of understanding when they’ve succeeded at becoming an insider, instead of an outsider?

Fill this worksheet out for your organization. Just put a mark on the line about where you feel your org rates. Be honest. When you’re done, the more marks you have to the right-hand side of the sheet, the more you might want to consider some changes, and the marks on this sheet can be used in a solutions based conversation about how to beef up your employee socialization program.

Because, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.


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