Like individuals, an organization has only one chance to make a good first impression.
People will have a solid impression of who they believe you are within the first seven seconds of meeting you. Some research even suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.
Even small efforts can work wonders in alleviating new team members’ anxieties. The way we welcome and treat new team members can make a significant impact on how soon, and to what extent, they become the most productive. A good first impression can build a great community culture.
Paul in Romans 15:7 encourages the church in Rome to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” He emphasizes hospitality (Romans 12:13) but also how we love people well in our community. Paul loved to encourage the church to greet one another with affection, equality, and love (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20 2 Corinthians 13:12; and 1 Thessalonians 5:26). Our first impression is not about just putting the best foot forward but about expressing genuine care and love to those we are serving.
New People on a Team
A great onboarding experience ensures 69% of employees stick with a company for at least 3 years according to employee onboarding statistics. This reveals that how we initially engage new people in our organization is crucial to retaining our people.
Beyond the logistical and tactical elements of onboarding a new hire, there are the elements of the heart and mind of people joining a team.
5 Things a New Person Wants and Needs
- Want to belong – to be part of a group.
- Need to be accepted.
- Want to be liked, respected, paid attention to, even loved.
- Want to be heard, as well as seen.
- Want to fit in.
Leaders generally give remarkably low priority to the need for orienting new people in their organization. This lack of care is to the detriment of their team and their organization. The first year of a person’s journey with any organization is critical to them owning your vision and you winning their loyalty.
Leaders often assign very little time, budget, and personnel to the task of new team member orientation. Lacking the understanding and wisdom that these first impressions are critical in making a person feel integrated. What a tremendous opportunity we have, as leaders, to help new people on a team quickly become all we expect.
I think you’ll agree, the onboarding of our new team members merits more of our attention as leaders.
Anchoring Into a Community
Each year during the month of May our company would have the Albert Trolley History Tour. This Tour was part of a multi-day introduction and orientation, and one of my favorite times to be involved. We would ride a rented trolley-like bus around the city as I explained the history of our company.
In the moving and storage business, we hire new employees before our peak season, which runs from mid-May until the last week of September.
Here’s what I’d do during the tours:
- I shared many stories about our company’s history as we visited physical locations going back to 1938.
- I shared traditions that have made our company special by giving our new people roots as a foundation.
- I was truly a tour guide vs. a travel agent because I spoke out of my experiences vs. telling them something I merely read.
Here are some of the results from the tours:
- Personal time with our new people and our new people got to know me on a more personal level.
- Our new people heard and saw my excitement and pride about where we had been and where we were going.
- New team members not only heard me talk, but also, saw me exhibit Our Values, Our Purpose, Our Vision, and Our Objectives.
- Our new people came away from the Tour with a better understanding of our culture and why we do things differently from most other companies.
- Our new hires begin to understand if they really fit in our company or not. And if not, this was the right time to leave our company so they could go and be successful with another company.
Whether you are a non-profit, business, ministry, or educational institution what are some fun ways that you could engage your new people to anchor them in your organization’s culture and history?
Is Your Company Built to Last?
Best-selling author, Jim Collins, in his book “Built to Last,” offers evidence of what drives healthy, great, and enduringly successful organizations vs. other organizations:
- Stronger coaching into a core ideology (values and purpose) through history.
- Greater tightness of fit through the organization’s history. People tend to either fit well with the company and its ideology or not at all. “Buy in or get out.”
- Greater Community (a sense of belonging to something special and superior) throughout the organization’s history.
- More emphasis on team training and development in general. Not just ideological orientation, but also skills and professional development training.
Clearly, it’s important for our people to be aligned with who we are as a company. I’ve found the orientation of new employees is a unique opportunity to communicate our purpose and values. The Albert Trolley History Tour is a fun and effective way to accelerate this process.
Pause and Reflect: A Good First Impression
- How do you communicate and demonstrate your organization’s culture and values to new team members?