Your First 5 Minutes With a New Hire
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To get things off on the right foot, make sure you cover what needs to be said at the start.


1. Explain expectations.

The future of your company rests in the hands of each hire you make--and you often expect new hires to be both willing and able to deliver on an array of duties to make your business grow. While most new recruits are just as excited for the opportunity to demonstrate their many talents, it's crucial to communicate your expectations to the new recruit in no uncertain terms, so she knows what is required of her. When I hire someone new for my company, I let her know right off the bat the skills I think are important, the rules I expect her to observe, and the way in which she needs to behave to get ahead. An account executive, for example, will hear directly from me that the key to selling well is listening carefully, not pitching.

She will also learn that our day begins promptly at 9 a.m. and distractions such as cell phones and Facebook will not be tolerated, because her customers deserve her full attention.

I also let her know that I expect her to take initiative, whether it be asking for help when she needs it or seeking out knowledge about areas of the company she finds interesting.

2. Review responsibilities.

Taking the time to go over a recruit's responsibilities in depth provides assurance to the new hire that you know where the company is headed and how her contributions will make that trajectory possible. It also lays the foundation for good communications early on. An employee who knows what she is responsible for is an employee who is able to gauge her own progress and assess her own success on an on-going basis.

When I hire a new order fulfillment specialist, for example, I go over the software she will be taught to use, how many orders or dollars she is responsible for shipping each day, and the turn-around time that will need to be met in order to deliver customer satisfaction and meet her personal goals.

Giving the employee a snapshot of what information she is responsible for mastering, the daily tasks she is responsible for handling, and the results she is responsible for delivering shows her she has joined an organization with direction and implicates her immediately in its structure.

3. Point out privileges.

A new hire needs to know that her responsibilities also come with privileges. It is important to discuss privileges from the start, because new hires need to understand both how privileges are earned, and how long it takes to earn them. At my company, for example, traveling for the company is a privilege. I tell a new recruit about this possibility from day one--both to discuss her interest in traveling, and also to set the timeline for earning this privilege. Only a staff member who has shown she is able to represent the company and its interests as I would is afforded this privilege. This means not only mastering her specific job, but also having a global understanding of how the company works, and an awareness of our strengths in the industry overall.

It usually takes at least six months before a new recruit would be considered for this privilege. Knowing that in advance allows recruits who are enthusiastic about the opportunity to actively work towards it, and also avoids frustration in the early months wondering if they will ever be given the chance to travel.

4. Reveal rewards.

A job well done is compensated by salary. An employee who goes above and beyond her job description is one who should have access to additional rewards. Letting an employee know there is more to be earned when she surpasses her responsibilities and exceeds your expectations is integral to grooming a top-performers.

Saying so the minute a recruit joins your team reassures her that you will pay attention to her contributions. Knowing that you, the owner, will personally be following her efforts gets her motivated to push beyond his comfort zone and thus, to move your company forward in the process.

When I hire a new salesperson, I let her know that her salary includes a commission component so that salary is never capped--but I also explain that in addition to that compensation, we award bonuses based not just on sales performance, but also on the ways in which they shape and better our company.

5. Go over growth opportunities.

New hires bring with them excitement and ambition when they join your team. You need to fuel both by immediately giving them a glimpse at opportunities to grow. Let them know that there is more for them than the description of the job they have been hired for--and define what more is at your company.

At mine, which is a relatively flat organization, growth in the form of titles is rare--however, growth in terms of learning and evolution is both abundant and rapid. If you start as a designer, you may one day have the chance to become a part of our buying team--an opportunity that brings with it overseas travel, additional compensation, and increased input into merchandising.

The first five minutes you spend with a new recruit speaks volumes about what you think is important to convey about your company. Taking the time to do so insures that every team member is on the same page as you from the start.

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