Let’s take a moment and digest this thought – recruiting is hard. Nothing is more exciting than scoring a fantastic Employee – but it can be a lengthy process and a tough one at times. We as employers invest a lot of resources in the hunt – our time being one of the most valuable. Creating the perfect job posting, posting and refreshing ads on the local and niche job boards, printing and screening resumes – these are not quick endeavors. These are just the initial stages; you haven’t even met the candidates yet! You move on to the next round, of what could be 2 or 3 interviews, reference checks, preparing an offer – the hiring process can range anywhere from several weeks to many months, depending on the type of position you’re working to fill. Think about how much time you have invested in the hiring process. Minutes turn into days and days into weeks. Don’t get me wrong – this process is a great chance to get to know potential new team members, see how they interact, and determine a fit. I enjoy the process myself, as I am playing an active role in choosing the people to solve whatever challenges I am trying to fix. This process is also necessary to ensure the success of the company. Great people do great things – put these people together and watch great stuff happen. Watch great stuff happen today; watch it happen 10 years from now. When great stuff stops happening, that’s when you have a problem. End of story.
So, let’s fast-forward 30 days. Your new employee has been in his new role, and as far as you know, things seem to be good. You are meeting your targets, tasks are getting done, the workplace vibe seems okay. One day you are sitting at your desk, you get a knock on your door, and it’s your new employee with the dreaded envelope in his hand. He tells you he is not sure this is a fit for him, and he is going to move on. POOF! Just like that, all your time invested, the employee’s skillset you were so excited to score, your plans of all the things you felt this employee could be a part of fixing or correcting – gone. Back to the drawing board….
We as leaders must take the time for reflection and try to understand the root cause of why something didn’t work. Where do we think it failed? Where do we think it went well? What could we have done to potentially create a different outcome? Employee turnover is costly – and preventable if we put in some groundwork.
Every company should take the time to create an effective onboarding plan for employees. You don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars to do this. It doesn’t matter if you are a company of 3 or a company of 300 – your new hires deserve this from their employers. When an employee starts a new job, she comes in excited and ready to go; there is an energy. If we have done our job, new employees should be coming in excited about their new opportunity and still be energized from their interview process when they were told about their role and all the wonderful things the company has to offer them. New employees are also coming in with their eyes wide open. They are scoping everything out, asking themselves if they like their co-workers, the office/working space, the person who will be training them, and the way in which people communicate. They are quickly forming their own opinions, and it’s up to you to make sure that it’s a good one.
Step one: Do you have a plan?
You should. You need to put in time and thought on this; you can’t wing it. Once you have a plan, put it on paper. Start to build your new hire package and use this plan as a road map – don’t stray from it. Before your employee even starts, send her a copy of it. Give her an idea of what to expect. This does wonders in easing first day jitters and gives new hires a bit of a “wow factor.” I usually tend to give them an idea of what to expect the first 2 weeks. You don’t need to go crazy, but give them some detail. Do you have them traveling? Perhaps they are visiting another clinic or facility. Write in your plan, “We will reimburse you for gas money for this” or “We will cover your accommodation.” Don’t assume they should know these details. Not everyone has a credit card to charge hotel costs, and you should arrange this. A new employee dropping money this early into a new job is unsettling sometimes. Ease concerns before they arise. Answer questions before they ask them. A well-organized plan is half the battle and can be reused and customized for future employees.
Step two: Make the time
Be sure to have a contingency plan for last minute changes. A new hire shouldn’t have to sit and wait for you if an emergency arises. Really, they shouldn’t even know there is a problem. You should have a plan to be available for them on their first day. If you aren’t the main trainer, you should have someone else readily available to them. You know your industry better than anyone else. You know the challenges, and you know what makes a good day over a bad one. Plan for a few different outcomes, and no matter what you are faced with, always have a Plan B available.
Step three: Chief Retention Officer (CRO)
As leaders, we succeed when we help others achieve their own success. When people start at one position and can grow and develop, that is a win/win for everyone. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify different tasks or opportunities you can assign to your team to help them get to the next level. Take a second and reflect on your team, who has the most energetic personality? Who loves the company and is always willing to help or try new challenges? Who puts in a lot of time, does things that are not expected but always appreciated? My friends, this is your Chief Retention Officer (CRO). This is a prestigious role and very deserving of the title. You as a leader may not have all the time to spend with new hires, and that’s okay – this is where your CRO comes in. Your CRO loves the company/your department/your unit and everything it has to offer. Task them with working directly with your new hire, have them do introductions, a tour, and act as a resource for the new hire. Have your CRO show your new hire all the programs your company has, the events you do, the best places in the area to get lunch, or things as simple where to get staples. The little things matter. You don’t have the carry the whole new hire process on your shoulders alone – get a CRO. Get a few. This is a fantastic way to give a wonderful experience and to get your current staff involved as well. A mention on your current staff – do you have a team member that is negative? I can answer this – Yes, you do. I say this because we all do. No matter what skill he or she may bring to the table, do not make this the person your new employee trains with right away.
Step Four: Understand people learn differently.
This may be one of my top frustrations. Because you learn one way, it doesn’t mean your new employee does the same. You need to be prepared to deliver the information in a way she can comprehend. People learn by doing, people learn by taking notes and then trying, people may have their own way to do things. You cannot get frustrated at this and must allow the time for her to learn. Anyone you give training authority to must understand this as well. It’s like reading a book about learning how to swim. Read these 5 chapters and I will see you at the pool – good luck!
Do you want to know the secret about how to find out how he likes to learn? ASK! This is such an unexpected question and will most always shock him, but in a good way. “Joe, may I ask you a question…when learning new tasks, how do you like to learn?” He will probably look at you stunned. Keep going… “Are you more hands on? Do you prefer to see then do, do you take notes?” If you know how a new hire ticks, you can deliver a much better training experience.
Step Five: Check in with them. Seek feedback.
Its one thing to say you have an open-door policy. Frankly, a lot of companies say they do, but the vibe in the office often tells otherwise. I dare you to be different and be the leader that walks the walk and talks the talk. Make time for your employees, old and new. The act of you calling someone into your office shouldn’t draw a reaction of fear or “What did I do?” Make a point of meeting with your employee at the end of her first day, the end of her first week, and regular intervals moving forward. Pop in on the floor or in the workspace to say hi. Let her see you as approachable and available. I also want to point out – be open to a new hire’s feedback. Your have this new employee, fresh and un-jaded – what does he or she see? A fresh perspective is very valuable. Be the leader that is open to this – you will gain respect and people will be fighting to come and work for you.
Step Six: Do you hire for skill or do you hire for company culture?
This is the last point I want to leave you with. Do you hire for skill or company culture? Likely, if you are reading this, you are part of a unique industry. Your candidates must bring a certain level of skill to the table to be able to perform their tasks. However, in addition to this – they must be able to fit in with your team. If you have put in all the work, created your onboarding plan, worked hard at building a culture that is fun, people want to be a part of and enjoy coming in daily – a wrong hire can be a devastating blow to your current team. Skill is important, but don’t be blinded by it. You can be an expert at what you do, but if you are not a nice person, people won’t want to be around you. Always consider the culture fit when adding to the team.
If you walk away with anything from this article, the biggest message is Be Prepared! I have been in your shoes before. It can be very challenging to manage the onboarding and training process. I have said the words myself “I’m not sure what to do with them next.” Our days are busy, and it is tough to spare even a few minutes sometimes. Break the cycle. Find a way to free up time and devote this time to ensuring your new hires get the right experience. If you do this, watch your retention levels sky rocket and turnover rates drop. Wishing you the ultimate success!