(Reprinted from my column on Forbes.com)
The first day at a new job. Excited but nervous. Shoot, why didn’t I wear a tie? They said business casual but my boss is wearing a tie. Oh geez, that woman again, I just met her and I forgot her name already. Should I go to the cafeteria to eat lunch by myself—should I wait for someone to ask me? It’s 5:00 and I have nothing to do…should I leave? Everyone else is still here. Let me check the news on Internet again…
It is being reported on several techie websites that when employees arrive for their first day at Apple, they are given the inspirational note shown below.
I love the concept of giving every new hire a letter on their first day for the following reasons:
1) First days are tough. You haven’t made “work friends” yet so you feel alone, you don’t know the company culture or jargon yet so you feel confused, and you are quite literally lost (“Where’s the coffee and bathroom?”). A warm letter can make you feel welcome.
2) First impressions count. A good orientation program helps, but a warm note shows that the company cares enough about you to think ahead to your arrival.
3) Cultural immersion should start early. First days—first weeks—often are periods of lighter workloads. It’s the perfect time for new hires to “work” on understanding the company culture and values.
Having said that, there are two things wrong with Apple’s approach (note: so far, Apple has neither confirmed nor denied whether this letter is authentic) .
First, it’s paternalistic. Slipping in, “The kind of work…you’d sacrifice a weekend for” sounds like they are setting the weekend hours expectation up front. If you’ve hired the right person, she’ll know that sometimes extra hours are required to get the job done. She’ll already have a work-life blend mindset. She won’t need to be reminded of that, and bringing it up on day one sets a bad, paternalistic tone.
Second, it’s impersonal. The signature line has a pre-printed logo and “Welcome to Apple” statement. Not very warm. It would mean much more if the letter was actually signed by the CEO, or by the person’s manager, or even better, by every person in the department (talk about peer pressure!).
Welcoming each newbie on their first day with a note is a great idea. To make it effective, make it personal and focused on organizational values.
(So, what your BEST or WORST first day like? Leave a comment and let me know!)
Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.