Have you been through the hiring process in your organization? Have you applied for a job at your company or worked with the temp agency that represents your company? Have you analyzed the messages that are being sent out to those who have never even set foot in your offices or done any business with your organization? If you haven’t, there’s no better time to start than now. If you don’t think that will work, try hiring a “secret shopper” to go through the new hire process in your organization and provide you with detailed notes.
On my first day of taking over as President of Advanced Cabinet Systems, one of the first things I insisted on doing was going through the new employee orientation. Of course, I was promoted from within and have been at the company for years, but I still wanted to try and get a feel for the first impressions we were giving out. We do some very simple things at Advanced Cabinet Systems that don’t cost much money or take much planning but they really stand out.
What Do New Hires Experience On Their First Day?
Along with all of the standard first day stuff like discussing hours, introductions, and pointing out the bathrooms, we go through our mission and value statement. We let the new hires know how important those values are to our organization.
We have developed what we call “The Facts.” We simply laid out certain facts about our organization and expect them to be ingrained in everyone’s mind throughout their day and their career. We explain to our people where our products are sold and the type of customers we go after (asking around the factory, I was amazed at how many people had no idea about our industry or our customers).
We also have their locker cleaned out with their name badge already on it (people love seeing their names on things). Upon opening the locker, the new hire finds a custom ACS gift bag with a hat, shirt, and a few other branded goodies inside. Easy! Doing little things like that make such an impression on new hires and lets them know the kind of company we are, and the type of service we expect. It is so important to treat each new employee like they’re your next million dollar client. They will remember that, and give back in more ways than you can imagine.
Harnessing a great first impression is the single most important tool you have in controlling your corporate culture. You’ll be shocked at what you find out, and you’ll truly understand how important those first impressions are.
Building a sustainable culture starts at every new employee’s first impression of your organization.
I want to reference back to a previous article of mine, Four Ways to Keep Your Organization Ahead. One of those ways is to keep your barriers to entry high. Do you have people yearning to get in the door at your organization? What is attracting them there, and what are they finding out when they actually get an in? Are you lazy in your new hire orientation, do you even have an orientation? If you don’t, you’re not alone but you should adopt one. The new hire orientation should be overloaded with sensory details. You should take great care in the entire walkthrough, down to which hallways to walk them through first, the room in which the orientation is done, and what to save for the last part of the tour.
You never get a second chance at a first impression, and that impression will mold that employee’s view and values of your organization and those are nearly impossible to change without a major culture shift within your entire organization. You must start building your culture at the very first chance you get with a new hire.
A great culture breeds many, many more things. In manufacturing, we get a lot of built-in quality for free because our team wants to do it, it’s in their blood. We get exceptional customer service from each employee because they know that it is expected and is part of their job.
It is much easier to start and sustain a culture if you give people no other way to view your company from the very first day. The person doing orientation is an absolutely essential part of your entire corporate culture. Are they passionate about your organization? Or do they just show up? If it’s the latter, write them a glowing letter of recommendation and send them to your competitors!
Philip Bowers, 26, is President of JGBowers, INC. JGBowers, INC owns JGBowers Construction, a General Contractor, and Advanced Cabinet Systems, a nationally recognized architectural casework and retail store fixture manufacturer. These companies are based in Marion, Indiana. Phil is also the founder of Outback Storage, a Marion, Indiana based personal self storage business. Find him on Twitter @ryaPhillinme, or check out some of his other blogs at www.woodworkingnetwork.com.
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