People & Culture Tips: Good First Impressions

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” — Will Rogers  

Picture this:  It's the first day on the job for your new team member.  There are a myriad of feelings and thoughts going through their mind.  They are excited about their new role, new team and new opportunities.  They are curious, ready to learn and connect …. and probably a little nervous about the unknown.   

By the end of day one, their head is overflowing with new information, names, tasks, forms, learning and questions.  But the one question they really want to understand is:  “How do I belong?” 

Like most new employees, your new team member wants to make a great impression during their first days and weeks…..   

But WHAT IF you (the employer) looked at it differently ……  

What if YOU were trying to make the best first impression on THEM? 

What if the new team member didn’t have a one-off ‘induction or orientation’ but instead was accompanied on a journey over the next days, weeks and months that focused less on tasks and more on their long-term success?  

The experience a new team member has during their first days, weeks and months can significantly shape  and impact their career development and the time it takes them to get up to speed to deliver results.  

“Few would disagree that relationships matter.  However, when onboarding new employees, many organisations don’t do enough to help them make connections or foster a sense of belonging”.    - Talya Bauer, Professor Portland State University.  (Google re:Work) 

By encouraging a sense of belonging, an employer plays an important role in satisfying the inherent human need for friends, relationships, trust and connection.

So how can you create an onboarding experience that inspires your new team member and provides an environment that allows them to quickly use their skills to contribute in a meaningful, productive way?  


1.   Make sure your values and culture are demonstrated in how you treat and greet new team members.  Stories tell who you are - show them how happy you are to have them as part of the team.  

2.   Lead by example and give them something to get excited and inspired about.  You are an inspiring organisation with vision, purpose and impact - don’t be bashful about sharing it.  

3.   Create connections on their first day.   Managers play a special role in connecting with the new employee AND connecting them with the rest of the team.  Something as simple as a welcome lunch or icebreaker during a team meeting can set the scene for their whole employee experience. 

 4.   Ensure they have any equipment, resources, documents and access they need for their first day.  It sounds obvious but so many employers are unprepared for new team members when they join. 

5.   Assign them a buddy who can be their ‘go-to-person’.  Buddies can be a great support for newbies as they get to know the team, unwritten rules and culture.  

6.   Provide clarity around their role and responsibilities - help them understand the role they play in the organisation’s success. 

7.   Create a culture of feedback and support from day one and encourage open dialogue when things are going well (or not so well). 

8.   Talk about best practices, procedures and guidelines that are important in understanding the operations of the company so that they can focus their efforts on learning their role. 

9.   Show you care about their success and learning.  Check in with them after week 1 and along the way at the 30, 60 and 90 day marks to understand their wins and challenges.  

10.  Remember that onboarding goes beyond when someone first joins the company.  Think about how to ‘Transboard’ someone further along their employee journey,  e.g. changing teams or returning to work after an absence.  How will you re-engage them and share information as they transition into their new role or team?   

How could you be creating an even better first impression? 

Leanne Hart
12 September 2018

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