Civility Practices and Onboarding New Employees

Employee Onboarding from TinyPulseTINYPulse, a company that helps organizations gain feedback on employee engagement, discussed evidence that effective onboarding of new employees is important in one of their recent blog posts.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Notice little details on how the employee is fitting in. Observe what is going on and be willing to speak up early and often.
  3. Speak up and communicate concerns that are observed sooner than later. The new employees will learn to expect constructive feedback.
  4. Recognize efforts specifically related to process rather than giving generic praise.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”

Gather 510 px squareWhat do you think?  Can weaving an onboarding process, that also instills a culture of respect into your organization, have a positive impact?

The Wallace Centers of Iowa shares tips and tools for leading with civility in the workplace.  Tweet  your thoughts to keep the conversation going?

Skilled Positive Feedback Leverages Growth Mindset

Giving positive feedback is an important skill, however it is a tricky skill to apply. We teach giving positive feedback as one of the eight civility practices in our workplace programsGraphic for positive feedback.

The research from Carol Dweck on growth vs. fixed mindset informs our perspective.

“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people…change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.”

Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Dweck’s work suggests that feedback can impact whether a person stays in a growth mindset or becomes fixed in their thinking about their work. When we acknowledge a person’s talent and intelligence, the person can become stuck or fixed in thinking they need to maintain an image of being talented or smart.

Instead, Dweck recommends that we give feedback that supports process and effort. A good way to do that is to start an ongoing conversation that supports learning and growth. Consider the following interaction between manager and employee…

Manager: I appreciate how well the office has been running since you started.

Employee: Really?  Thanks!

This a simple positive feedback interaction. However, we are not sure what mindset we set up for the person receiving positive feedback. It could be possible that the employee is thinking one of two thoughts:

  1. Wow! I am good. (This can lead to trouble when a manager needs to give constructive feedback. The person might think they are so good that you can’t run the office without them.)
  2. Oh no! I better not screw up. (This can lead to lack of innovation or a fixed mindset because the person isn’t aware of the process that led to the result. They think it was some talent or luck that they might not be able to apply in new situations. )

Instead of stopping with this two line interaction, follow up with a question that supports the employee to reflect on the effort or process involved in the good result.

Manager: I appreciate how well the office has been running since you started.

Employee: Really?  Thanks.

Manager: What are some of the things you did that made the office run better?

Employee: Well, I am not sure. I haven’t really thought about it.

Manager: It would be helpful to know because maybe we can apply the process to other situations.

Employee: Well, I have been paying attention to the workflow. I noticed the reports different people use and thought about how to set things up so everyone knows were to find important reports.

Manager: What other ideas do you have?

Employee: I can’t think of anything right now.

Manager: Ok. This kind of thinking process can be useful in other areas so let’s keep thinking and talking as you have new ideas.

This interaction sets the stage for an on-going dialogue about how things are going. In this manner, conversations plant seeds for a civil workplace that respects the processes that lead to good results.

Gather 510 px squareThe Wallace Centers of Iowa shares tips and tools for leading with civility in the workplace.  Tweet  your thoughts to keep the conversation going?

Seeds of Dialogue: Four Civility Practices

Photo of Water Dialogue Dinner

Water is a subject that is on people’s minds. The Wallace Centers of Iowa and four promotion partners are encouraging people to talk to each other at Conversations about the Future of Iowa’s Water.

At the dinners, dialogue is structured with questions that naturally bring about four civility practices. These practices are taught in The Wallace Centers of Iowa programs for the workplace.

Speaking Up-

In order to understand issues better, it makes sense to explore what feels troublesome about an issue. Eventually a person will need to speak up in order for things to change.

When it comes to the future of Iowa’s water, what are your concerns?

Listening Well –

When a person speaks, they have a right to respect and to be heard. Listening well involves asking questions to understand and truly acknowledge what others are saying.

Thinking about the future of Iowa’s water, have you listened to the concerns of other Iowan’s?

Seeing Possibilities –

No matter what issues come up, there are always positive examples of people taking action. Being able to see those examples and build on them creates a more civil society.

What positive actions have you seen that address the future of Iowa’s water?

Responsibility –

Each person must assume some level of responsibility in order for any kind of civil action to occur on a larger scale. In the case of the future of Iowa’s water there are two questions to consider about responsibility.

What role do elected officials have to play?

What personal actions have you taken or plan to take to improve the future of Iowa’s water?

Discussing questions in a small setting, after getting to know new people over dinner, is a simple but profound experience.

Promotional Partners include:

Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance

Iowa Environmental Council

Iowa Association of Water Agencies

Iowa Farmer’s Union

Seeds of Civility is a blog that cultivates conversations about civility and leadership in the workplace and in the community.  Keep the conversations going!

Graphic of Cultivate