Our brains remember information “presented first and last, and have an inclination to forget the middle items.” People will remember vividly their first impressions of you and their last interaction with you.
Although you can update their last interaction constantly, you are going to be stuck with those first impressions. Be careful about the messages you send with your words, with your actions, with the order of your actions, with the signs and symbols you deploy.
This is why Day One is such a meaningful pivot point for onboarding. Many people who are important to your new role will form their first, indelible impression of you on this day. As with the Fuzzy Front End, reconnect with your own BRAVE preferences and orientation, and think carefully about whom you are encountering and already starting to influence.
There is no one right way to do this; but there are many wrong ways to do this. It is all about the first impression received. Different people will have different impressions of the same thing depending on their perspective and filters. The problem is that before your first interactions with them, you can’t understand their perspective and filters. So not only is there no one right answer, but it will also be difficult to figure out the best answer for your particular situation.
This is another reason it is so valuable to get a jump-start on relationships and learning during the Fuzzy Front End. One of the powerful things about embracing the Fuzzy Front End is that it enables you to manage the initial impressions you make on those key people outside the noise of Day One. Managed well, it will also help you make better choices about your early days.
John Lawler, one of the co-authors of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan puts it this way:
No two leaders’ first days will ever be the same because the combination of variables in every situation begs for different Day One plans. If there are market concerns, consider spending part of the day outside of the office with a major customer. If organizational complexity exists, consider a New Leader’s Assimilation workshop, allowing your team to voice concerns and learn about your preferences and early views.
At the start of a new role, everything is magnified. Thus it is critical to be particularly thoughtful about everything you do and say and don’t do and don’t say—and what order you do or say them in.
As you plan your own Day One, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
By George Bradt
 Elizabeth Hilton, “Differences in Visual and Auditory Short-Term Memory,” Indiana University South Bend Journal 4 (2001).
A thought-provoking 1-hour session to help you prepare, on December 02 at 2 pm CET with Borderless.Live in association with NotActivelyLooking.
McKinsey senior partner Mary Meaney joins IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Unilever CHRO Leena Nair to discuss how companies can organize for the next normal.
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