We’ve all been there.

Interviewed a new potential employee who seemed so perfect for the job so we couldn’t wait to get them started. We excitedly offered the role, sent the contract and arranged the start date. ON day one, we showed them around, introduced them to the team…. and left them to get on with it. Job done.

Fast-forward 6-9 months or so and things don’t seem so rosy. The person we thought would slip seamlessly into the business and really show the others how it’s done is not doing so well at all.

Maybe their performance is average at best; maybe they haven’t hit their KPIs or milestones at all and there is certainly no ‘going the extra mile’ going on! And maybe you’ve begun to notice a number of concerning behaviours and habits tat you didn’t see before.

So, what happened? Did you really employ a dud? You’re usually an excellent judge of character, right?

It’s quite likely that your new employee wasn’t a dud pretending to be a superstar. It’s also likely that they were capable of being that fabulous new employee you thought you’d found. So why did it go so wrong?

If you’re like many busy Managers, you had good intentions of doing an induction or at least some initial training, but…. you were just so busy. You told yourself that they should be competent or experienced enough to just pick it up ‘on the job’, so ….you left them to it.

And that’s where their performance was sealed.

You see, research shows that new employee performance is set within the first 2-3 days in a new job. During that time, they’re more open to direction and expecting to be ‘shown the ropes’, but be warned..  whatever understanding, thoughts, beliefs, habits and mindset they’ve formed in that brief 72-hour period will be the programming that fuels what they do and how they perform from then on.

Once those ideas and habits are in place, they can be very difficult to change. Get this right and you’ll have given your new hire the best possible chance of being successful for you and given yourself the opportunity of having a positive, high-performing employee who fits right in with your culture.  

Creating a powerfully positive impression during this time with conversations around your most important values, clear expectations of both behaviour and performance, followed by a well-planned induction to demonstrate exactly ‘how we do it here’, can have your new hire impressed by your professionalism, excited to be working with you and stretching to meet your standards from day one.

Miss this, and you leave yourself exposed to the possibility of another under-performing employee and months of performance management hassles down the track.

This process is called ‘psychological contracting’ and it forms their understanding of exactly what will be expected and what great performance looks like to you. All cards are ‘on the table’ and nothing is assumed. It also you a chance to assess their learning style, willingness and coachability and eliminates the ‘But I didn’t know’ defense later.

Your ‘Psychological Contract’ sets the tone for the working relationship, defines the boundaries and clarifies your obligations to each other, all of which influence how they will behave and perform from day one.

If you don’t make time for a thorough induction within those crucial first 1-3 days, expect to make time down the track for performance management, recovery training and trying to break the bad habits they formed while you were ‘busy’.

Kym Krey is a specialist Leadership Mentor working with business owners and managers to become inspiring leaders and get real results through their teams. Contact her at www.kymkrey.com.au