April 17, 2017

The First Week is the Most Important

By Paul Bieber

It sure is. But which first week? Was it the first week’s health report for my new grandson, Sandy? Was it the first two weeks for the Mets, who are doing very well? Is it the first week when you own a new car and baby it, not having your first fast-food meal on the fly?

‘None of the above’ is the right answer. It is the first week of employment for your new person. We all know how hard it is to find and hire qualified glass help during these good times for our industry. The first week will be the most critical week, either creating an environment where the employee wants to stay with you, or begins his job search again, staying with you just until he gets that better or even the same offer.

The morning of day 1. Have him met at the door by his supervisor. A smile and a warm greeting sets the stage. Bring him directly to personnel to set up his payroll, benefits registration, go over the employee handbook and give an oral history of the company. If you don’t have a personnel person, then his supervisor should do all of this along with the payroll bookkeeper. Give him a full tour of your facility, introducing him to all of the supervisors he will interact with. Show him where the coffee pot is, the bathrooms, the door where the lunch truck comes and the microwave for employee use. Issue his safety gear, explain what to wear, when, why safety is the number one priority of the company, and the consequences for not wearing the provided safety gear.

The afternoon of day 1. Get him working. Introduce him to his co-workers, explain his job duties in-depth, answer all his questions and watch him for the first 15 minutes of his work.  At the end of his shift, spend five minutes going over the day, again answering questions.

Day 2.  Set him up with a job buddy. This will be a coworker who can teach him more about the job, will have lunch with him so he doesn’t feel like a stranger, and can give him the ins and outs of his daily job duties. At the end of the day you should again meet with the new hire for five minutes, going over his day.

Days 3-5. You should meet with his buddy to see how the new hire is doing. If he needs help, get it for him. It is better to train the man you hired than to let him go if he is not perfect. Meet with him on the fifth day, seeing how he is doing and answering all questions.

At the end of two weeks, give the new hire a mini-review, lasting ten minutes. Tell him where he is doing well, citing specifics, and tell him where he needs to sharpen his skills, again citing examples. If, for instance, he has arrived late for two days, remind him this is not acceptable. Ask him why he was late and discuss what can be done to prevent this. Don’t let a bad habit develop early on. 

This first ten days will foretell the future. You will be able to determine if the new hire will be on the path to stay with you, even though you may give him 90 days. I could always tell by the end of the second week if someone was going to make it. A good leader develops this instinct. You may need to work hard during his training time to ensure his retention. Remembering how hard it is to hire in current times. This effort will be worth it.