As any small business owner will tell you, employees are a company’s most important asset. The vast majority of owners will therefore try to make a great first impression when new employees come on board.
This post isn’t about that. It’s about the knuckleheads who don’t. Here are 10 ways to frighten or disengage your new staff on their very first day of work—a classic list of what not to say and do:
1. “Wait here while we, uh… do something else right now.” When new employees arrive for their first day, make them wait in the lobby for several minutes. Don’t bother being ready for their arrival. They won’t care. After all, they’re getting paid to just sit there and read magazines, right?
2. “Here’s your desk. Sorry, but the computer and phone aren’t working yet.” It doesn’t matter if everything’s hooked up and ready to go. Employees are getting paid, so unless they’re good with technology, they should show some patience and wait until the IT guys can get around to helping them.
3. “Dear (New Hire)... ” When you give your new employees their welcome letters, don’t worry about having their actual name on it. They can fill in the blanks for you. It’s not a big deal. No one reads those letters anyway.
4. “We’ll introduce you to your co-workers—later.” Don’t waste your time introducing new hires to other employees on their first day. There’s plenty of time for that later. If they need to, they’ll figure out who’s who. And besides, by now they’re too intimidated to remember names and titles anyways.
5. “You told us during your interview that you take a lot of initiative, so we’re not going to saddle you with a partner.” New hires don’t need an experienced co-worker to help them transition to their new environment and answer their questions. Employees are adults. They don’t need anyone to hold their hands. Ever.
6. “Hey, the lunch room down the hall has some pretty good stuff in the vending machine.” Most newcomers don’t expect to be taken out to lunch on their first day of work. That’s kind of old fashioned, isn’t it? And besides, the other employees are too busy to take someone out to lunch who they don’t even know.
7. “Oh, by the way, HR’s on the fourth floor. Finance is on the seventh floor…” A tour of the building? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, and besides, employees don’t need to know where the other departments are, or meet people who they won’t have to interact with very much.
8. “Expectations? We’ll get back to you about that.” Employees don’t need to know what the expectations are for them when they just start a job. That’s something they’ll figure out on their own after they settle in.
9. “It’s your first week, so just sit back and observe.” There’s no need to give new employees something to do right off the bat. After all, what can they be expected to do? They just got here. They’ll probably appreciate not being overwhelmed with work, after all.
10. “This week will be crazy for me, so if I don’t check back with you, just leave at 5 p.m.” New employees will be sick of their supervisors before long, so don’t bother to check in with them at the end of the day during their first week. After all, they just started. What do they have to say that can’t wait? They can save their questions for later.
All of these examples are great ways to greet a new employee—if you want to get off on the wrong foot and set a terrible example. If any of the above sounds like your company, don’t be surprised if your valued new employees soon become valued new employees for one of your competitors.
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