Unleashing the full capacity of your people

Unending Onboarding Raises Workplace Productivity

Endless Onboarding Manager

Gallup and other researchers consistently find a huge gap between organizations and their employees. Year after year, they find only 25% of employees fully engaged in their enterprise’s mission. That’s a clearly identified productivity gap! It also becomes a real leadership opportunity, if anything close to that percentage applies to your followers!

How do 75% of your employees end up disengaged? Did they arrive as new employees that way? Did you strive to hire people with bad attitudes?

No. Just about every one of your employees came to work their first day raring to go. They were embarking on a new mission, a new journey, getting a fresh start. They were excited, ready to make a difference.

Then the prevailing culture began to grind them down, stonewalling their ideas, draining their enthusiasm, demanding that they get with the unengaged program being run by seasoned employees.

Let’s be frank: If your employees are unengaged, your culture did it.

What You Want to Hire What You End Up With
Bright, energetic people ready to dive in and contribute Dispirited, unmotivated time-servers
Creative innovators stretching the envelope in all the right ways Rote task doers getting all the basics done, but no more. Just waiting for quitting time each day
Injecting new ideas, engaging and motivating the seasoned time-servers, shaking the place up, getting it moving again Propagators of the current, stale, static team culture – Energy sappers
We could go on…

If we all make it a point to hire great, talented, motivated people, why do we all end up with a set of time-servers?

Here’s one idea: The sub-optimization begins the moment onboarding ends.

Man seeking boss

It’s Day 91. Where did my boss go???

Think about your onboarding process:

  • You take your talented new hires 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 about 90 days, 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.

  • Team Culture CTAPerhaps your spotlight has shifted to a newer hire.
  • 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 (meeting the needs of superiors takes 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.
  • You have left the new person in the “capable hands” of your team, who are only 25% engaged. What cultural norms are they going to teach this person once your attention shifts away?

Whatever the reason, if you consider onboarding “done” at any point, you have just skipped out on your main job as a leader.

Here’s a better idea than the benign neglect into which too many managers fall back:

  • Keep onboarding “new” hires until the day they leave your employ. This goes for every employee, not just the latest “new hires.”
  • Never stop nurturing the organizational connections they need 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.
  • Schedule regular performance reviews, which are focused on learning, development and future progress as must as a retrospective on recent past results. You both should come out of those meetings with action items. How are YOU going to help that person succeed?

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!

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