The missing piece to effective on boarding

I caught up with a couple of peers recently who work with a mid-sized organisation. As part of our usual chit chat we spoke about what we had all been up to recently. They mentioned that they had been flat chat preparing for seven new starters. That’s right – seven! Now this business has approximately 100 staff, so seven new starters is a big deal. Over the coming weeks they are going to on board 7% of their workforce.

While they talked me through the wonderful and comprehensive job they had done preparing for these new employee’s, I couldn’t help but think about the one item that seemed to be over looked – setting expectations and asking permission to give feedback.

Now my peers are by no means unique in making this oversight. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest it wasn’t an oversight at all. Rather, they didn’t mention it because it is something out of their control. Asking permission to give feedback and setting expectations is something that only a manager can do with their employee. However, for one reason or another many managers don’t feel it’s necessary.

Humour me for a moment though. We are all well aware that the latest data suggests a staggering 76% of our staff are either not engaged or highly disengaged. We are also well aware that poor relationships (largely with our managers and leaders) and a lack of growth and development opportunities, consistently rate as the two key drives behind this figure.

Imagine then the possibilities if manager’s sat down with each new employee at the outset and said: ‘I am your advocate. I am on your side and I want to see you succeed. As a result, I am going to give you positive and constructive feedback when I see you do something that does or doesn’t support you in the achievement of your long term goals’. Equally, I want you to do the same with me and I promise I will say thank-you’.

Further still, imagine if the manager took the conversation one step more and asked the employee what they wanted from their working relationship. I am not talking complex questions or anything overly touchy-feely, just a couple of simple things like:

• What are the 3 things that will keep you in this role?
• What strengths do you want to leverage in this role?
• What is the one thing that would make you leave this job?
• What is the best way for me to communicate with you?
• What are your long-term career aspirations?

As basic as these questions may seem, unfortunately they are all too often overlooked. As a result, we don’t understand what drives our employees and what we need to do to grow and engage them. Yet, we are surprisingly stunned when our staff leave or someone who had so much promise becomes unproductive and uninterested in helping the business succeed.

Next time you have a new starter I encourage you to take your new employee for a coffee, get to know them and ask their permission to provide regular feedback. I guarantee your actions will reassure them that they have made the right decision to join your organisation.

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