First and last impressions matter

It’s a truism; but is it that self-evident to people?

I’ve recently been in the position of having time off over the summer by virtue of handing in resignation and deciding to take a break; it ended up being about 6 weeks. I recently got accepted for a new position and my experience of the exit and subequently onboarding process led to some introspection around how much first and last impressions matter for a company.

When you leave a company, especially after a long time in my case, last impressions can still count for a lot. It dictates how much good feeling there is left, and whether or not you’re happy to engage with the company in the future. Similarly your motivation and enjoyment during your honeymoon period in a new job will be dictated your first impressions of a company.

First impressions are down to the HR team and their onboarding of you into the company. This is going to include things like getting your bank details into payroll, pension and benefits etc. It needs to be self-service and seamless; in my case clearly laid out and all done before I started. Even the issuing of IT equipment will impact your first impression. I was lucky enough to have a chat with the IT person directly to give them an idea of what I was going to be doing and was delivered a new laptop before 10am on my first day; they covered off enough with me beforehand to make sure that I could be productive when I started. Teething troubles are all par for the course, but I can’t fault the onboarding process and that means I’ll be much more amenable when the honeymoon period is over. Intellectually I understand that I’m a cog in the corporate machine but I don’t feel like one which is important.

In the same way, the last contact you’ll probably have with your company is likely through payroll and HR. The finance team will be responsible for cutting your final paycheck and HR will be having your exit interview. If you don’t get an exit interview, then your former employers don’t care why you left; they’re choosing not to understand what they have done well, done badly, or could do better at. If your paycheck is wrong, you’re overpaid, underpaid or whatever then you’re in the position where the finance team need to contact you. The way that contact is handled is going to leave a taste in your mouth; good or bad; this impacts any subsequent interactions with the company. While this might not affect your relationships with your ex-colleagues (you can have a still have a jolly whine about it down the boozer), it invariably colours any future conversations you might have. As you can probably guess, mine wasn’t good.

If you’re in the sad un-enviable position where you have rigid processes and employees are just a cog in the corporate machine; it’s no surprise that you get lambasted in social media for not being human enough. You’re a representative of the company when you’re dealing with incoming and former employees and that should be uppermost in your mind; you will have a concrete impact on the reputation of your company. There’s always nuance, but you can always choose to be kinder in your interactions.

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