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Opinion: First-day orientations make all the difference

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As an owner or manager, it helps to remember – or imagine – what it is like to be an employee. If we want to attract and develop great talent, let’s consider what we can do to engage our new hires right from the start. 

What would a great first day look like? How about this …

Meet the service manager, who oversees your orientation and introduces you to every team member.

Find your name and position on the organizational chart.

Tour the office, warehouse, training areas, locker room, restrooms and break area.

Learn where you are to park and stow your personal gear.

Receive your phone and tablet.

Complete the human resources hiring checklist.

Meet with the owner and review the company mission, vision and goals for the current year.

Introduction to the master project list and top projects.

Go out to lunch with the owner and your field supervisor.

Complete the information technology hiring checklist.

Learn how to access the manuals on your tablet and fill out the first section of your customized training checklist.

Get assigned to your team.

Review the company manual with your supervisor.

Review the salary levels and career opportunities with your field supervisor.

Get the idea? Formal, specific steps that will help new kids learn about your company and how they can be successful. And with each step, you and your team members could get to know them. Engage them in conversation. Learn about their family and sports interests. Be kind and encouraging. That’s a nice start, right?

Day one of kindergarten
My sister, Trish Saccomano, is a professor at the University of Utah. She has a master’s in education. For the last 15 years, she has been teaching early education students how to teach.

Before that, Trish was a kindergarten teacher for 29 years. A visit to her classroom was a lesson in management. One might expect chaos and clatter and all things the matter. However, in her domain, kids were busy learning, in all different ways. There was fun, and excitement and focus and discovery.

I asked Trish how she created such a positive environment. She said her teaching success is grounded in these three strategies:

  • Get them to fall in love with you. This is job one, starting day one. You focus on each child, and ask questions, like what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them about their favorite movies and books. Ask them about their families and pets. As you do, you will discover that they are amazing, and you will fall in love. They will love you right back.
  • Drill the systems and procedures. Suppose a 5-year-old breaks a pencil in class. If he doesn’t know where to get another one, he will become disruptive. Orientation includes showing kids where the tools are, how to use them and other rules of the room. This includes housekeeping and manners.
  • Load them up with meaningful, appropriate work. Start with the love. Establish the rules. Then, give them lots of work to do. Make it challenging, yet appropriate for their skill level. Offer independent activities as well as group projects. Build on what they learn and increase the level of difficulty. Play games that utilize their expanding skills.

When Trish shared this with me, I told her I was struck by the universal applicability of this sound process. She agreed and said she now uses the same approach with her adult students.

Wouldn’t this work for you and your teammates? It starts with the first day.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at


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