Avoiding a First Impression Fumble

By Maria Forbes
March 13, 2019

Avoid a First Impression Fumble to Ensure Long-Term Success

The first day at a new company or in a new role is exciting for everyone. That said, the stakes are high when someone joins a team. As a leader, you want to know it’s going to work out so you can avoid the expense of turnover. You want  a measurable return on the investment you made, by bringing on someone new. Similarly, your team members do not want to find themselves back in the job market. In order to avoid “fumbling” the first impression, it is vital to make new team members feel immediately engaged in their role and in the growth of your organization.
It’s important as a leader to recognize that the need to understand how one’s contributions impact the bigger picture is not “a generational issue;” it’s a people issue! Your people spend the majority of their week at work. They want to feel valued, to have a voice in the success of the organization, and to arrive home knowing their investment of time and energy meant something more than just a paycheck. Everyone wants the opportunity to remain relevant and avoid the stress of an outdated or incomplete knowledge base. Every member of your team needs to know upfront that the organization to which they’ve committed is going to encourage their creativity and development, and support them in a manner that will avoid boredom and burn-out.
New hires require a pathway to success from the moment they arrive, in order to set the stage for a successful long term association.
Avoiding the first impression fumble. Think of a team member’s first day as a dinner party in your home. How will you be sure your guests feel important and enjoy their experience? Most importantly, how will this “event” create a feeling among guests that will make them want to come back? On-Boarding is the event planning that will achieve an excellent experience with your company. The process lays out the initial path to success in your organization.  We call this part Team Foundations, ensuring new and existing team members (or party attendees) have both the information and the experience they need to succeed. An evolving format enables your new team members to envision their personal success at every stage of their association with your company.

Three things to do upfront for every team member.


  1. Build a plan before they arrive. Whether you are On Boarding a new hire or shifting an existing employee onto your team, a well planned process makes the initial employment period a no-brainer. Trainings, timelines, company culture and values are visible as soon as new team members arrive at the office. Like any well planned event, you will communicate the experience from the start. Common questions like “who is on my team?”, “who will I work with for orientations and trainings?”, “what is the schedule?”, and “what are the expected outcomes?”, are answered and outlined through an organized process.  Planned interface with others in the organization helps to overcome the discomfort of being new; relationships begin to form and collaboration takes place as new team members learn to navigate their environment. Lay the foundation early to ensure a new team member feels they are a valuable part of the organization.
  2. Connect every person to your company vision and keep them connected. With every interface a new team member should experience a cohesive performance culture. As with any well planned event, there must be a clear reason why people are there. Your team members need the same clarity about their role at work. A new team member’s ability to relate their role to your business vision gives them a clear understanding of how well they are contributing. Connecting individual strengths with company goals is an ongoing practice. Continual connection fuels mutual respect between team members as they recognize the value of their unique abilities. Connected members will form supportive relationships to facilitate learning and development through collaboration with others.
  3. Optimize and align individual unique abilitiesUnique personal abilities are not only a relational advantage, they are a performance advantage. Personal strengths must be identified and integrated into your business goals for optimal performance. Remember: unique abilities don’t always show up on a resume or pop up during an interview. It is vital that you continue to learn more about your team members once they are hired. Knowing what is special about your people is not enough; their abilities must be aligned with your goals in order to maximize long term performance across your company. Developing your organizational capabilities begins with an evolving action plan. Also, keep in mind that it’s important to periodically revisit role descriptions. As a company’s organizational vision and goals change, so should role descriptions (and therefore team member expectations).  Vital to your ongoing success is continuous alignment of your team’s unique abilities with their roles and your company’s growth goals. Optimizing the connection to roles and talent will keep your workforce engaged as avoid burn-out.

Your people are the drivers to your organizational success. They are the present and the future. Don’t fumble the first impression; structure success for everyone on your team starting with day one and do not lose momentum! 

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