Posts Tagged ‘On-boarding’

A colleague of mine and his wife, Jeff and Kerry, are expecting their first child, a boy. The excitement they share as they anticipate this event is palpable. When they talk about doctor appointments, preparations, things they’ve purchased, and preparing the nursery, you can feel their positive energy and they glow with eager anticipation.

Shift now, to your organization. What happens in preparation for a new employee? Having been the new employee in a number of different organizations over the course of my career, I can say my experience has been varied, but only a couple of places stand out for doing it well; one of them was significantly more prepared than any other.

A couple of days after I accepted the offer at this particular company, I received a very nice flower arrangement; this was a first! A couple of days after that, my new manager called to express how pleased he was that I was joining his team, and to check on a couple of details; he wanted to know what I wanted printed on my business cards and needed some information that would allow the IT group to set up the laptop they ordered for me. This, too, was surprising behavior.

When I arrived for my first day, my office had been freshly cleaned and was as well appointed as they could make it; they wanted me to choose the furniture set-up I preferred rather than guessing, so for a couple of weeks I made do with the large, ornately carved wooden desk that formerly belonged to the company’s President! My phone was set up and the desk actually had pens, paper, stapler, tape dispenser, phone book, and company phone directory, as well as a company-branded pen & tablet and travel coffee cup.

My new teammates had each written a welcome note on brightly-colored 3×5 cards, which were tacked to the wall above my desk.  The admin assistant had already scheduled “getting to know you meetings” with all of the key leaders with whom I would be working closely, and those were spaced out over the first two weeks. They had lunch brought in for me on my first day, and we all ate together, beginning to get acquainted.

I’m sure there are other details I could share with you, but my point is this: My entry into the company was very positive and left me with no doubt about their level of excitement that I was joining them. They took the time to think through and plan for my arrival; none of it was an afterthought. The same can be said for my colleague and his wife as they prepare for the arrival of their son.

Contrast this to my first day with another company; my manager was actually on vacation the first couple of days I was there! I had office space, but nothing set up for me…no office supplies, no computer, no plan for how I would spend my time beyond the obligatory stack of documents that I had to complete. Why wouldn’t she have scheduled my first days for a time when she would actually be there? I’m still at a loss for the explanation for that. Or consider the stories I’ve heard – and I’m sure you’ve heard, or perhaps even experienced yourself – about companies that behaved as if the arrival of a new employee was a surprise, an inconvenience, maybe even an irritation.

Going back to my colleague’s son. No doubt, the baby will feel welcomed, wanted, and loved when he arrives and as he grows up. Intuitively he will know these things, but it won’t be for several years that he will have a conscious understanding of the time, effort, and thoughtfulness that his parents invested in preparing for his arrival. New employees, on the other hand, are instantly very much aware of the level of thoughtfulness and consideration that went into preparing for their arrival – or didn’t, as the case often seems to be.

I hope you don’t get caught up in the analogy I chose; it’s not my intent to imply that employees are “babies” and should be treated as such. Rather, it was a timely (for me) thought-provoking situation that got me thinking about how we often view our work entirely differently than we do other aspects of our lives, and yet, that are so many parallels and great lessons to be learned if we will only change our paradigm.

Whatever end of the spectrum you are on with respect to preparing for new employees, what message does your practice send?

Is it the message you intend to send?

What impact is it having on employee engagement and morale in your organization?

And how is that, in turn, affecting your results?

If you are interested in benefiting from your employees’ discretionary efforts (that level of performance that is above and beyond the basics as defined in one’s job description), taking some time to reflect on – and perhaps adjust – your new employee on-boarding preparation and processes may serve you well.

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