How Quickly Does Your Culture Sub-Optimize New Talent?
Do you hire dispirited, unmotivated employees, or bright, energetic people ready to contribute?
Do you seek out candidates who are already disgruntled, or folks who start right off as creative innovators?
Are you expecting the new hire to sink right into the current stale or static team culture, or do you hope that an injection of new ideas and energies can shake the place up and get it moving again?
All of us would answer “the latter” to all those questions, so why do companies end up with a whole bunch of the former working on teams across the organization?
Look to your management leaders. Are they failing the new hires by letting them sink or swim on their own initiative?
Think about your onboarding process:
- You take your talented new hires (in which you invest so much hope) by the hand and introduce them to the people whom they need to support and get those relationships kicked off on an upbeat note.
- You then introduce them to the people who will be supporting them in achieving their assigned goals, to get those connections established properly.
- You scheme to get them resources to help them “settle in” and “hit the ground running.”
- Then, after a few months, you stop. Your fledglings are out of the nest, know the ropes and can fly on their own, while you get back to work.
Big mistake. Day 91 is the day when energy starts to fade, motivation to seep away and disgruntlement to grow.
There are lots of reasons people are left to their own devices. Perhaps your spotlight has shifted to a newer hire. Maybe you have been pulled back into meeting the needs of superiors, which always seem to get more attention than your own people and their needs (bosses take precedence, after all.) Perhaps you assume that bright, talented motivated people only need so much direction before they take the bull by the horns and manage their career without active help. (These self-starters are called “prized employees,” which may also be part of the problem; not least because they may start choosing their own direction, and have to be reigned in. Might this start them down the slope to disengagement?)
Whatever the reason, if you consider onboarding “done” at any point, you have just skipped out on your main job as a leader: Keep your people engaged, energetically productive and pointed in the right direction.
Here’s a better idea than benign neglect:
- Keep onboarding “new” hires until the day they leave your employ.
- Never stop nurturing their connections and greasing the wheels of their projects.
- Always be seeking ways to win them more resources and obtain for them the recognition and rewards due them when they produce at a high level (however defined.)
- Treat every employee this way, not just a favored few.
Our marketing guy had a boss years ago named Herb Sandler, CEO of World Savings (now part of Wells Fargo.) Herb was tough as nails on expenses and following policy and procedure, but completely ready to support initiative. His standard parting line with any employee with whom he had a meeting was “how can I help you get this done?” And he meant it: If you needed a connection to someone or his support with other departments, and your idea met his standards, you got what you needed.
All managers who aspire to be great leaders need to put the needs of their hard-working people first, and keeping the onboarding spirit and energy going with no expiration date!