How to Start Employees Off Right (and Not Crush Motivation)

I want you to imagine you are starting a new job as an employee at your company.

The hiring manager or section leader calls you and lets you know you’ve got the job. YAY!

You start getting excited about the position. You look at all the information about the company again and look at the wonderful things about it.

You start to imagine how great it’s going to be.

Then you come in your first day, eager, excited.. ready.

The first thing you get taken into is HR to fill out a bunch of paperwork. You may even have the obligatory not-so-exciting training to do right then as well.

You get led to your office area. You sit down at your desk – oh but wait, they don’t even have a computer for you yet.

Oh, and your boss is out today, so you have no clue what to do even if you had a computer.

So you sit and twiddle your thumbs for a few hours until IT brings you a temporary laptop that’s looks like it probably has Windows 95 on it.

However, they still don’t have your email setup. It’ll probably take a couple days – along with your computer.

You look around and see some people who might be your teammates, but you don’t know, but no one talks to you. They don’t seem very excited about their jobs either.

You piddle around till lunch doodling on sticky notes (at least you have those!) and building castles with paperclips, and notice groups around you going to lunch – but no one even looks at you.

You grab your peanut-butter sandwich (almond-butter if you are allergic) that you discover is smushed because you accidently smushed it during HR orientation and begin to eat it slowly.

Welcome to your new job!

start employees right welcome


This may seem like a fanciful story – but it’s not. This type of scenario happens every day.

People are excited about their new positions but then that excitement is crushed the first few days.

It’s happened to me. I’ve started jobs all excited, only to have little things that wouldn’t be hard to fix knock down that motivation.

I’ve had equipment and access not ready – for multiple weeks! Talk about frustration and demotivation.

When your employees start a new position, they are excited about the position. They are ready to go.

Don’t kill it before they even really start. Keep that momentum going.

Let’s look at some ways to do that.

Start with the mission, values, and culture – not HR policies and training

Yes, HR policies can be important. Yes, they may need to go over that.

But don’t kill their motivation starting them off with obligatory training.

Instead, start them off having a leader talk about and lead them through their mission, values, and culture (granted, that should have also been a part of the interview etc. process to make sure they were a fit).

No, I don’t just mean a boring powerpoint slide with a poorly written mission statement that dusted off every year for review or values that are stuck on the wall that no one ever looks at.

You should be living and breathing your mission and values. The leader – they should be excited about them. Passionate about it even.

It’s not just a slide – it’s a transference of energy.

THIS is who we are. THIS is what we are about.

That energy and excitement should bubble from the leader and envelop the new employee.

Tour the place (however big it is)

This can be one of the company leaders, the person’s new boss, or even one of their new teammates.

Someone should walk them around, introduce them to people (who should be happy and excited to see them – I mean, seriously. Those sour faces, we are just here enduring, that’s just Jane/Joe, ignore it – that shouldn’t be your culture – and if it is – you might want to fix it).

You also want the person enthused about the company – not jaded and cynical talking about the negatives or “that’s just the way we do things (again, if that’s your company culture -you might want to fix it).  

They should get a tour and be shown their new area as well as meet all their manager (if they haven’t already) and their new teammates who should be happy to meet them, not see the new person as competition or with glares.

start employees right tour

Have everything ready for them to go when they start

I know I’ve had my enthusiasm crushed with a lack of preparation. You may have had that experience as well.

Companies can be slow to get equipment and online access to employees (but, boy, they can be QUICK to disconnect your email and everything at the instant of hearing you might be leaving – I even had one turned off before the end of my last day!)

Don’t do that to your employees. That’s one of the quickest ways to curb their enthusiasm.

When they get there, have their computer ready to go, email access setup, software access given with passwords for everything and access instructions ready to go.

Oh, and have what they should start working on ready to go to as well.

Have a buddy/mentor for them

Especially the first few days, have someone who is their “buddy” or mentor. They talk with them, check up on them, make sure they have everything they need.

It shouldn’t be a “hey, I’m in the cubicle down the hall, past the restroom, to the left, 3rd to the right, second row. Come see me if you have any questions.”

That person should check up on them, help transition them, and answer any questions they may have.

And, of course, the buddy/mentor should be excited and enthused, not lazy and cynical who’s going to talk negative about the company and let the employee know how the company really works (which, again, if that’s your culture…).

(Tip: It could be a good idea to use the questions and needs new employees mention to the mentor to prepare better for other new employees. If they are confused about something or you find they lack access to something, you can fix it for future employees.)

start employees right buddy

Be patient with them and offer support

Don’t expect them to “get” everything instantly.

Start off offering lots of support and guidance to acclimate to the culture, ways of doing things, policies, checklists, etc.

Dave Ramsey in EntreLeadership said it takes about a year at his company for people to fully acclimate.

Have your guidelines, systems and checklists written out

Now, when it comes to bureaucracy and rules, in general, they stink. I’m not talking about all of that.

Policies shouldn’t be made to control people to make sure they do what they are supposed to do (lack of trust) or as a passive-aggressive way of dealing with people issues (one person messes up, so we make this new rule for everyone instead of dealing with that person).

Policies should be made to boost productivity. If doesn’t help your employees do their job better, then you may want to rethink the policy.

Having checklists, guidelines, and systems in place, having them written, and helping the person learn and see them can help them in their job.

For example, if they are publishing blogs for you, there is likely a checklist they should go through before publishing that blog.

There may be a certain format that your sales letters are in or reports or whatever it may be.

Having those written out (with examples, if applicable) can go a long way in helping someone acclimate to their new position.

Also, those policies shouldn’t be set in stone. They should be adjustable. If better ways are found, change them.

Set clear expectations

You also want expectations to be clear.

The person should go into the job knowing exactly what they are expected to accomplish and what results they should be getting for the company.

They should be able to see what their most important tasks are so that they can focus on them.

When new projects and tasks are given, they should be given clearly and be provided whatever support needed to be able to make it happen.

Take the person out to lunch with the team

Have the team take the person out to lunch! One of the best ways to bond is through those non-formal events, such as lunch.

This helps the person get to know everyone better (and them, him/her), and it helps build and continue their enthusiasm for the job.

start employees right lunch

Makes sure they have the needed resources and support

Make sure to check in with them. Do they have everything do they need? Are there any questions (their buddy/mentor can do this or have their manager or such do it as well – in fact, having multiple people ask (in the right way) can show even more that they are cared about and people want them to succeed).

Also make sure all resources and support and such are clear. If they need sticky notes, it should be easy, not a 50 form process or having to ask around how to get new sticky notes.  

Have them meet regularly with their manager

First, the manager should meet with them when the start and at the end of the day to see how things went, if they have any questions, etc.

You also likely want to start with the new employee meeting more regularly with their manager to check their work and help them make the adjustments.

This is not meant to be micromanaging but helping them slip into the role and the culture. It should be about support, not “getting them” for not doing it right.

Make sure they see how their job is important and how their job fits into the big picture

You’ve already introduced them to the mission and values and culture. Now help them see how their job fits into all of that.

When people have a purpose, when they find purpose in their work, they are more motivated (in general) about their work.

Help them see the importance of their work, how it helps, how it benefits, and how it fits into the bigger picture.

If they directly impact customers, show them how.

If they help others who help others impact people’s lives, show them how.

Even if it’s just helping you do your job more effectively, let them know the importance of their job and the impact it has.  

start employees right purpose

Know what drives the employee

You want to get to know (or their manager if not you) what drives the employee.

What motivates them? What drives them? Why do they get up in the morning?

What kind of appreciation do they like (private, public)? What’s meaningful to them?

The more you know, the more you can individualize your actions toward them.

And, what’s one of the best way to find out? Ask.

Check in with them at the end of the day, end of the week, etc.

You of course, want their buddy/mentor to check up on them during that first week or two.

However, it’s a good idea to have the manager (and even higher ups, too, depending) check on them as well at the end of their first day to see how things went, if they have any questions, if everything was ready and good, if they have any needs, etc.

It can be a good idea to check on them throughout the week, but if nothing else, check with them the end of the first day, the second day if you can, and the end of the week.

Make them glad to be there!

Starting a new job can bring much excitement – don’t destroy it before they start.

Do what you can to start employees off well, and it will benefit you in many ways.

Do you have any stories of how a company started you off well? Do you have any other tips I should add? Let me know below.

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