Successful strategies to on-board your new hire

If you are like many of our clients these days than you have been in the midst of hiring spree for your organization. Record low unemployment and a mobile workforce have created a true lack of talent to fill even the most entry level positions let alone your key leadership roles.

As a result, many of my coaching discussions have revolved around the hiring process and identifying a candidate that is the best fit for both you and the organization. While there are countless articles, books and videos on how to interview and hire a new team member, I’ve found a true lack of understanding as to the best ways to on-board and acclimate your new hire in those crucial first weeks on the job.

The standard operating procedure is to enroll them into the payroll and benefits process, provide a user name and password, attach them to someone at the hip for a few weeks, and allow them to get “acclimated” to your organization and learn the ropes.

The new thinking is that this is the absolute worst possible thing you can do. Why would you want them to acclimate in a few weeks when you have a perfect opportunity to really make some improvements to your operation. Studies tell us the these first few weeks in a new role are the best times to set new expectations, learn new skills, and establish within your new hire the culture you are building and nurturing on your teams and in your company.

Let’s walk through the on-boarding and acclimation process for most organizations:

First of all, think about this person you have just hired for one minute. Here you have selected them from all the other candidates and being chosen from a large group of people never get’s old. Remember getting picked on the playground for kickball? Always feels good.

The last thing this person is going to want is to do or say anything that would make it seem as though you’ve made the wrong choice. By allowing this person to acclimate to “the way you’ve always done things” you are wasting an amazing opportunity for someone to look at your operation with a completely fresh set of eyes.

Take a look at what your company pays a consultant to come in and do that same thing. For about 4-6 weeks you essentially have a private consultant on-site 8 hours a day, excited and grateful to be there, and for a fraction of the cost. Unless of course, you allow them to acclimate.

A good friend of mine once said “We take thoughtful, intelligent people- hire them- then we put them into a thoughtless, unintelligent systems, and for some reason we expect intelligent thoughts!”

Maybe you’ve lucked out in the past and hired a person that’s confident and sure enough of themselves and their ability to speak up when they see opportunities for improvements, but I would caution that is the exception and not the norm. Most new hires simply want to confirm that you made the right choice and rocking the boat may not be within their comfort zones.

Rather than allowing your intelligent, thoughtful new hire to get acclimated, do just the opposite. Challenge them to look at everything you are asking them to do, and how they are asked them to interact with the rest of the organization. Then schedule a daily meeting with them in which you have set the expectation that they will have at least 5 questions about their job, the company or just the way things run in the organization. Tell them 5 is the bare minimum and that no question they come up with is a bad question.

Initially they may not believe you are serious, so let them know up front that this meeting will indeed happen and that they will not be dismissed until those questions are asked. While some of them may seem redundant, at some point in the process one of those questions may spark the right questions and really be a catalyst for meaningful changes. At the very least you will get the opportunity to clarify the “why” in how you are doing things which will make you much more effective in your role.

The added bonus received from these daily questions is that you have engaged this new hire at a completely different level. You are asking them for their opinions and ideas, without judgment or cynicsm. You are encouraging them to speak up when they see something they feel needs to be addressed. You are empowering them to look for ways to make slight adjustment and improvements that in today’s business climate can be the difference between success and failure. And mostly you now have your thoughtful, intelligent new hire fully engaged and part of your team.

Or you can allow them to get “Acclimated” and get what you’ve always got, the way you’ve always done it.

To acclimate or not to acclimate- is there really any question?

Thoughts for the week:

All life is an experiment. The more experiments the better. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am always doing what I cannot do yet in order to learn how to do it. – Vincent Van Goeh

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.- Helmut Schmidt

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.- George Bernard Shaw

Continous improvement is better than delayed perfection. –Mark Twain

Looking forward to our next connection

Coach Tim