In my own work as a consultant, a financial services institution client discovered that the onboarding process created false expectations. Employees felt nurtured during the first week. The onboarding process included pre-selected organizational trainers presenting the culture of the organization and lunch with key executives. Then week two, the new employee was hit with the reality of life on the job. The root of the problem was the organization was so focused on onborading that managers were left without the desire and skills to work with new staff.
Now after working with civility practices I realize a good solution could have been to help hiring managers develop a framework of civility practices. The organization could have helped managers with onboarding skills and framed onboarding as a process that begins in the interview and continues throughout the employee’s career. In some companies this same approach is called the talent or people management process. The key is that the process is ongoing. People are always learning and growing in an organization.
A manager is anxious to get an employee up to speed but may not be equipped to make that happen.
As a framework for developing the managers, consider using civility practices. Here is an example of how that could work. Teach managers to:
- Listen to what the employee has done before and then help them connect with what is done in this organization. People learn best based on past experience. Building on what they know and adapting it to what they will be doing in the new job is helpful.
- Notice little details on how the employee is fitting in. Observe what is going on and be willing to speak up early and often.
- Speak up and communicate concerns that are observed sooner than later. The new employees will learn to expect constructive feedback.
- Recognize efforts specifically related to process rather than giving generic praise.
- Ask them new employees to look for systems that are utilized for productivity. They have fresh eyes and can offer new ideas on how to improve processes. Of course the manager needs to be open to new ideas and be comfortable with constructive feedback.
- Paint a picture of what is possible for the role. Instead of saying, “You need to do” a given set of tasks, frame the job in terms of the reasons the person was hired. Here is an example… “We saw that you have a strong ability to articulate customer needs. If you are able to provide insight to our team in this area, your contribution will be valuable.”
- Instill a sense of responsibility by giving direction that can be measured or discussed. “For the first two weeks get know Product A customers. Discover why they like the product and determine how to reach more of these customers.”