EPMEPM: Ask The Expert

First Impressions

It has often been said that it takes three, five, seven or 21 seconds to form a first impression (depending on where you read it). However, after the first impression has faded on day one of your new team member starting, the initial sentiment may have done a full 360. The question that we pose today is, why?

There are a number of elements that are crucial in the first 30 days of a new team members life in your organisation, for a new team member to “thrive” you will need to start implementing today!

Set the Scene

Just like setting the expectations of a prospective vendor or landlord before a listing presentation, set the expectations of the new starter before they arrive at your office on day one. Building excitement minimises the elements of fear and helps the new starter prepare. What could you do?

  • Ensure the team member has a “New Starter Pack” before they arrive, include a welcome note from the Director/s, Employment Agreement, Tax Declaration Forms, and a copy of the Office Policies.
  • A new team member would be well equipped to have researched the business, and there is no one better to provide this information than the business itself. Provide to the team member a “Get to know us pack”, including information on the company structure, team mates and their profiles, company marketing materials, and any other information that may assist them to get to know you.
  • The last business day before the team member is to start, a call from the Director or their direct manager to simply ensure they are all set for “Monday” and give them a rundown of what they can expect day one. If you have not done so already in the “New Starter Pack”, tell the new starter where they can park or how to get to the office. If you have a team meeting at start time on a Monday ensure that they get in a little earlier so you can get them settled in before they are hit with the barrage of new faces.

Week 1

Even if the interview process was exhaustive there is still much to be learned about your new team member. The first week will be paramount to ensuring they get “up to speed” in minimal time. The challenge for most businesses is that a new employee may come into an empty seat and there is work to be done immediately. Don’t get caught in the “time poor” trap and not formally induct your new starter.

What should an induction programme include?

  • Business Vision
  • Business / Team Structure
  • Team member overview and introduction
  • Job description review of new starter and balance of team
  • Accountability lines and reporting tools
  • Systems and procedures manual review
  • Formal three-stage training for each system relating to the role, to the level of competency. This means having another team member “training or showing” the new starter, how you perform each task in the business. As an example, arrears can be conducted very differently from office to office.
  • Culturally it’s great for someone to feel welcome; often we forget how well we know our colleagues and how difficult it can be to break into a new circle. A welcome card from everyone on day one, a gift such as a new coffee cup or plant or their desk and a social engagement with one or more other members of the team in the first fortnight all help.

Keeping things on track

No matter how large or small your business we all need to ensure that our team members are following our processes, providing the level of service that we advocate through our brand and maintain the legal requirements of our industry. If you are a leader, you must keep everyone accountable. A new starter, especially those taking a “step up”, have often oversold themselves, or you as the leader may have set your expectations too high. In order to not disappoint, the new starter will want to appear confident and competent, and as such may hide mistakes (for a short time) rather than seek clarification or ask for help or training. An audit and accountability plan, which reviews their work during the first 90 days, will allow you the opportunity to identify gaps in their knowledge and skills, and introduce training and support.

By creating an environment which encourages transparency, collaboration and training, combined with a warm team culture that keeps everyone accountable to the vision of the business, the new starter will not only survive, they will thrive.

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit realplusonline.com.au.