The Harvard Business Review has a case study in each edition designed to provoke thinking about a situation that could arise in business. In a recent edition the case study was about a lady who had started in a new job only to find the experience on the first day and first few weeks made her think she had made a big mistake. Ouch! I had a similar experience some years ago. I stayed, but it was a close call in the first week.
January and February are often times when accounting firms have new starters so the question I ask you is this. What have you got in place to ensure the experience for new starters in your firm is fantastic? An experience that means after their first day they go home and tell others “wow, I’m so glad I made this move, it’s going to be awesome”.
As an accounting firm coach, consultant and mentor what I have observed is opportunity in most accounting firms to do better when it comes to the induction process for new starters. In my view you start with a detailed induction plan template which is used and modified as needed for each new starter. This drives a tightly choreographed first day, week and month for the new starter and puts some wow into the experience of each new starter.
This requires quite a bit of planning but once you get your system in place it should unfold each time in a consistent, predictable and beautiful way! I once read some research that suggested the experience of a new starter in the first week has an impact on how long they will stay. Regardless of whether you believe that or not it makes sense that you want new starters to get up to speed as soon as possible and feel like they have made the right decision to join your business.
Some ideas for induction are:
- A system that keeps each new starter engaged from the moment the employment agreement is signed
- A system to wow each new starter in his or her first week / month
- A system to make sure each gets up to speed as quickly as possible
- All the technology set up ready to go – no stuffing around on day 1
- (In fact everything set up on day 1!)
- Business leaders have a critical role to play
- Schedule everything
- Put the new starter’s hat on. What would you expect / want / need?
- Positive surprises
- Buddy assigned
- Welcome sign in reception
- Desk decorated
- Card signed by every other team member
- Personal introductions to members of the team
- Package of books, firm merchandise, chocolates, lollies, toys, business cards
- Morning tea or BBQ on first day
- Tour of the local area – lunch and coffee spots etc.
- First week fully choreographed and paced
- A personal check in at the end of Day 1, Week 1, Month 1from the firm leader
- A checklist for behind the scenes and another with new starter
This is not meant to be a definitive list but rather to prompt your thinking about this.
Although business cards are not so common these days, how firms approach them for new starters can be telling. Some firms would say to me “we don’t give business cards until after they have passed probation”. Whether it be business cards or some other relatively small thing I believe it is ridiculous to behave this way. The message it sends is this – we hired you but maybe we are not sure so let’s just see how it goes before we actually treat you like a proper part of the team. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! I’m calling BS on this sort of behaviour. Be sure you are hiring the right person then give him or her everything needed to succeed from day one, not some arbitrary later time.
One final tip in relation to values and new starters. When I was the GM at Pitcher Partners in Sydney one of the key parts of the induction process for each new starter a discussion with me about our values and mission for the firm. These would have been talked about in the interview process and this chat with me on day one was a reinforcement that these were not just words on a page but how we truly lived our lives at Pitcher Partners. Very powerful.
Put yourself in the shoes of your new starters. What would you expect? What would you want? What would you need? Systemise it so it happens and personalise it so it adds some wow. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t blow it!