First Day Impressions = Lasting Impressions

A green nametag sticker with the words Hello I Am New for a rookie, trainee, new staff hire, newbie,

I have always heard that it was important to make a good first impression.  I have always tried to do that, especially on the job.  Last week a new coworker started at the office.  I tried to do my best to make his first day better than my first day was when I started here.  The first day impressions is a two-way street.  It’s not only the new person that is making the initial first impression.

On my first day here, I had two people look me in the eyes and tell me point blank that I couldn’t replace the person that had left.  Another person pulled me into a situation she was having with a database while I was still being introduced to the office and then said “I thought you knew what you were doing” when I couldn’t help her.   Yes, it was quite the first day on the job here.  The person in charge tried to make the image that the office was a small, family atmosphere.  It was not – at least maybe more like a dysfunctional family.

As the weeks went by, I was still facing pushback because I wasn’t doing things the way the previous person had done.  If that wasn’t bad enough, another person in my section transferred and suddenly I was covering for two other people while only getting paid for one.  It was a trying time.  My wife was my biggest cheerleader and keep me going with her encouragement.

That first impression of my new office didn’t get any better as I was constantly reminded of the previous person.  One day I had enough.  I drew upon the resolve I witnessed in my supervisor at my previous office in Tampa. It was the day I pushed back here.  I ended the comparison with the previous person who had my position.  I made it known that the person was no longer there and we were going to do things my way.  I already had several years of experience and I knew what I was doing.  I started a new day as I decided I was going to do things my way.

I haven’t had any problems since.

I have made it my own in the three years that have passed but those first day impressions have not left me.   It is amazing how some people treat new coworkers on their first day of work.  People come as unknowns to us.  We should never assume anything about new people.  People come to us with their own experiences and specialities.  We should never tell someone they can’t replace the person before them.  Do you want to know a secret?  We can all be replaced.  Painful, I know but that’s just the reality.  We should give people a chance, not compare them with people before them or hold them hostage to memories of employees past.

If you want to keep good people, you have to give them a chance to do what they do.  Don’t saddle them down with your expectations.  A good first impression goes a long way to building their confidence.  It’s hard enough being the new person in the office.  You have to learn the unspoken things that go on in the office such as the cliques and who to stay away from that causes trouble.  You have to learn things which are not in the employee office manual.  I have always learned that the first person that tells you all the problems in the office is usually the one that IS the problem.  It almost never fails to be the truth.

Perhaps one of the things that have changed me from that first day is that I decided not participate in office social functions.  I am here to do my job, not have parties or participate in non-mandatory office functions.  First impressions will set the tone and have done so for me in my current workplace.  We should all remember this when a new person is hired.


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