For the past few days I have been chewing on the words of former Ritz Carlton CEO, Horst Schulze.

Having hired dozens of people myself, and helped train them, I am challenged by the former CEO’s view on the importance of the first mile.

Schulze says, “The first 40 hours are the most important of a persons career.”

Wow! What a sweeping statement.

What Schulze knows is those first few days are the best chance a leader will have to cast vision, set boundaries, clarify roles, and model core values. In fact, Schulze, who recently opened a another chain of luxury hotels, is so passionate about training and orientation, he leads the process by personally spending time with his newbies.

In an interview with Forbes, Shulze says, “the finest people in the world work in our hotels and I don’t let just somebody train them. When we open a hotel, I train them. I did that in 50 Ritz Carltons and I still do it. I do it because I love it, not because I have to.”

If you have plans to expand your team, maybe you should put your orientation process under the microscope and evaluate your personal involvement.

I encourage you to remember the following:

1. A new person is like a sponge. They soak up whatever is made available to them. If the leader is absent, they might learn from the wrong person and get the wrong idea about your leadership. Your reputation is on the line. Be present!

2. A new person is not just a learner. They also have fresh eyes and can give you much needed input from an outsiders perspective. Ask them what they see and then after they tell you what they think you want to hear, ask them what they really see. You might be surprised at what you can learn. Listen as much as you talk!

3. A new person needs to be connected. Coming in from the outside can be challenging when you don’t know the language, metaphors, stories, or people. As the leader you are best positioned to paint the picture and foster vital relationships. Be strategic!

It’s true … you have one chance to make a first impression. If the first 40 hours are the most important of a persons career, don’t leave the training to chance and hope they “get it” through osmosis.

Be intentionally present, open, and strategic, and you too can lay a foundation that will lead to lasting impact.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What other things does a team member need during the first 40 hours on the job?

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