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Jacqui McGill AO

Non Executive Director

Perfect first day

Do you remember your first day at your organisation? 

Did it go like this? 

You arrive early, you already have your uniform, or you have the right style of clothing for the office (because you got some advice from you assigned buddy on the dress code), your desk and pc is all set up, you have a nameplate at your cubicle.  Your buddy meets you at your desk, and they take you to the best coffee place nearby (or Crib room).  On the way your buddy introduces you to many new faces, and over coffee they run through your first few days orientation.  They enquire if your relocation has gone smoothly and check that they have allowed enough time for you to do your life admin (car rego, licence, electricity).  Your first day is spent meeting people, being introduced, and being shown the systems that you need to feel productive and useful.  You meet the most Senior leader of your organisation and they take the time to share their thoughts on the company and its values.  When you return to your desk, there is a lovely gift with a short note of welcome from your team.   Over the next week, you have time to learn more from your buddy and start to feel independent.  In the coming weeks your boss enquires as to how your relocation is going, furniture and car arriving and that your salary has come through ok. 

Let me guess, it was nothing like this!

It always surprises me that after all the effort to recruit someone, there is so little effort put into the first few days or weeks for that new team member.  So here are my top 5 tips for being a thoughtful leader and ensuring those first few days and weeks are a positive experience for everyone.  

1.       Every new starter should have a buddy assigned.  A person who will in the coming days/weeks provide support to navigate the systems.  Purchasing systems, HR systems, expenses, best place for coffee, or times for lunch.  They should reach out and introduce themselves before the start date.

2.       Have a checklist for all new starters; this should include all the basics (varies according to role) PC, Desk, relevant policies covering mobile devices, PPE/Uniform orders.  That way you can ensure the experience is consistent and nothing is missed.

3.       Develop an orientation week.  Set up meetings with key people, tour of the site including areas outside of their workplace, invites to meetings, introductions to internal and external stakeholders, inductions and training etc.  This way they hit the ground running.

4.       If you are a senior leader of the organisation, welcome them yourself.   When I was GM I welcomed every new starter.  One guy who started with us in the Dozer Push team,  said “I’m going to call my wife, in the 35 years in this business I have never met the GM before”.  Taking 15 minutes out of your routine as a Senior leader can help set the build the right culture and make your team members feel valued.

5.       Check in that things are going to plan – payroll, relocation, expectations, concerns.  I remember engaging some undergraduates at a site, and when I asked their plans for Christmas they got really embarrassed.  When I pressed for what was wrong, they told me they hadn’t been paid for 8 weeks and were really short of money.  Needless to say I was horrified, we sorted their pay immediately and they came to my place for Xmas. It pays to check.  

 And finally consider if you want differentiate yourself/team/organisation.  I recently saw a photo on Linked-In of a young guy on his first day.  Someone had accidently left flowers on his desk, he was delighted and snapped selfies of himself with the flowers and sent them to family and friends.  Imagine the impact that would have had on him and others, imagine how valued he felt. 



MBA, BSc (Extractive Metallurgy)

DAdel (Honoris Causa), GAICD

Adelaide, South Australia



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