Get Them Off to the Right
It matters how you treat new employees on
their first day.
Bob Levoy, O.D.
"How new employees are treated on their
first day," writes James B. Miller, author of The Corporate Coach (HarperBusiness,
1993) "makes an indelible impression that affects long-term
performance." He adds, "Quite frankly, it is the most important day in
an employee's career. It sets the tone for everything that will follow. How
employees are treated on their first day is something every manager should make
a top priority."
Ease their way
Regardless of a person's work history, her first
day on a new job can be intimidating. For some, it's so overwhelming and
confusing that they don't return for a second day. The following guidelines may
help make the transition for new employees a smoother, more positive experience.
► Send a "Welcome To The
Practice" letter to the homes of new employees before their first day. It
lets them know they're important members of a healthcare team and that you're
looking forward to working together.
► On the first day, pair the new staff
member with a co-worker who will serve as a coach and encouraging presence for
as long as needed. This has two advantages:
ILLUSTRATION BY CINDY
1. A new staff member gets a one-on-one way to
"learn the ropes" from someone who's been in her shoes.
2. The coach feels proud that you chose her to be
responsible for the new team member. (For the coaching position, consider any
staff member who's had a couple years of experience at your practice, exhibits
leadership qualities and wants to help new employees grow in their jobs.)
► If possible, avoid starting a new
employee on your busiest day of the week. It's usually better to start on a
Tuesday or a Wednesday than on a Monday or a Friday.
► Make sure that all staff members know
that you're expecting a new employee and ask them to make her feel welcome.
► Employers often have "going
away" parties but seldom host "welcome aboard" parties. It's a
festive occasion, so treat it as such. Flowers, a cake, a catered lunch or
balloons are nice gestures.
► The orientation should include a thorough
review of the employee handbook. You want new employees familiar with your
policies and to answer all their questions.
► During the orientation/initial training
phase, be attuned to a new person's need for information and her individual
capacity for learning. Some new employees may want to move quickly beyond the
basics to learn about the broader issues such as the core values and philosophy
of the practice. Others may have additional questions about the daily
nitty-gritty that will affect their individual work lives.
► During the break-in period, the coach can
monitor the new staff member's progress with such questions as, "How's it
going? Do you have the resources you need to do the job? Do you need any
assistance in dealing with anyone in the practice? Is the job what you expected
it would be? Is there anything we can do for you?"
New employees should finish their first day
feeling they've made the right decision and joined the type of practice for
which they want to work.
Walk the talk
Finally and perhaps most importantly, decide that
welcoming a new staff member is an investment in long-term retention. Give it a
DR. LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK, "201 SECRETS OF
A HIGH PERFORMANCE OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE" WAS PUBLISHED BY BUTTERWORTH-HEINEMANN.
YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2003