Employees are the most impressionable during their first weeks on the job — and even more so during their first few days.

This is because people in unfamiliar territory are more alert for clues that will help them navigate the new terrain. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire's decision to take the job or lead to "new hire’s remorse."

The biggest cause of new hire's remorse is the dreaded employee orientation program. I have audited many over the years, and most are poorly organized and boring.

How can you expect excellence from your employees if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgam of tedious paperwork, hokey videos, boring policies and hours of rules and regulations? What kind of message does that send?

To get everyone off on the right foot, make it a point to reinforce the new hire's "buying decision" by spending the first hour on the job with him/her. There will never be another time when that person will be as receptive, willing to listen and wanting to understand your expectations as well as live up to them. This meeting will set the tone for the entire relationship, so it pays to get it right.

No matter what may happen during the rest of the day or even in a poorly executed orientation, if you use that first hour wisely, the new hire will still be happy and excited to be on your team. Use this time to deliver and reinforce these three messages:

  • You were carefully chosen and we're glad you're here
  • You're now part of a great organization
  • This is why your job is so important

Rebroadcast these three messages repeatedly during the first few weeks of orientation and training as well.

You may also want to use the first hour to:

    1. Share information. Spend some time talking about your personal career path, when and why you joined the company and ask the new hire about his career path and why he took the job.

    2. Set expectations. Let new hires know how you want them to communicate with you and about your management style. Ask them to describe the best manager they've ever had so you get a sense of how they like to be managed.

    3. Correct poor first impressions. Ask this person about their experience with the company's hiring system. Was it easy to apply? Did the company respond in a timely manner? What was the interview like? Thank them for their candid feedback, and tell them you’ll use it to improve your system.

    4. Theft prevention. Employee theft is the No. 1 cause of shrink in North America. Explain how much of every dollar in sales is actually profit. (You could draw a dollar bill with different sections marked off to represent the different major expense categories and one for profit.)

    5. Site tour and introductions. Give them the lay of the land and introduce them to co-workers. It would be an added bonus if you appointed a seasoned employee as the new hire’s mentor and lunch/break buddy for the first two weeks.

    6. Their questions. Give them an opportunity to get their questions answered.