I have no idea who wouldn’t do this, but apparently it’s something that a HR division head at Microsoft felt like needed to be written about in Harvard Business Review. I suppose there are some managers who utterly and completely ignore new hires in Week 1, which is insane to even ponder. You just spent four-six weeks running HR in circles trying to get this person because of how “slammed” you feel, and now… you get the person, it’s a big deal for them (first week at a new job is the adult equivalent of changing schools), and you just let them float/sink/swim for a week? For shame.
Here’s the key stat for me that this Microsoft person uses to justify the idea, even though the real justification should be “human decency:”
First, they tended to have a 12% larger internal network and double network centrality (the influence that people in an employee’s network have) within 90 days. This is important because employees who grow their internal network feel that they belong and may stay at the company longer. For example, employees who engage internally intend to stay at a rate that’s 8% higher on our intent-to-stay measure. They also report a stronger sense of belonging on their team while maintaining their authentic self.
Basically, connect them to the org and the people and the networks and how the work gets done. Even if your broader plan here is “Ignore this person until they screw up” (Management 101 in many cases), you still need to plug them into the channels that will allow them to be successful in the role. I know you probably just wanted to hire a no-fuss no-muss good little target hitter, and that’s perfectly fine. They can’t hit those targets without knowing who and where and how to go. That’s why an initial meeting is important.
What else to discuss at an initial meeting
- Who does what on the team
- How the team makes money for the company
- How the company makes money
- Who to speak with in different situations
- The tenures of different people
- What you’re working on as the manager
- What your boss wants to see from the team
- How available you’ll be in a given week
- Your upcoming travel schedule
- The best ways to communicate with you
- How the new employee likes to be communicated with
Almost all of this is just common decency and basic human context and communication, but all too often we strip it from work.
Isn’t this just onboarding?
Hell yea, to an extent. I’ve written enough about onboarding to gag a farm of horses — here’s a decent one — but let me explain briefly what the problem with onboarding often is.
- A lot of people with decision-making ability don’t care because it resides in HR.
- There’s no clear handoff between “the people who recruited the new employee,” “the boss of the new employee,” and “some other division of HR.”
- A lot of companies just buy a software suite to deal with this because the suite promised “end-to-end talent management solutions.” OK, cool. Usually that means it’s a project management tool where you check off “I gave the tax forms to the employee.” That’s important, sure. It’s by no means “effective onboarding.”
So the bottom line is, we should talk to new hires and contextualize the job for them?
Yes, and it should happen within the first few days they work for you, if not DAY ONE itself.
And ideally it’s happening all throughout too.
If you went 120 days without speaking to a friend of yours, that would feel a little weird, right? But that’s actually commonplace in some ways at work, even though we spend tons of hours there and see these people rushing by us all day long.
Just talk. Have conversations. Offer context. Do it often. And if you’re a manager of others, absolutely make sure you do it — and very soon into a new employee’s tenure.