One of the biggest challenges you’ll likely face as a manager is ensuring your new hires make a smooth transition that serves them, you, and the company at large. Whether they’re entry level or coming to the table with experience, finding new employees and getting them up to speed can be demanding for you and costly for your company. So, when a new hire falls short of expectations or doesn’t seem to be a good fit, it can be wildly frustrating.
Consider these stats:
In a recent survey by Korn Ferry, 90% of executives said retaining new hires was a problem, with turnover rates of 10-25% within the first 6 months alone.
According to Aberdeen Group, 86% of new hires make their decision to leave or stay within the first 6 months.
When bringing in a new staff member, the hope is that they will ultimately take some things off your plate and make your work life easier. With that in mind, you shift your attention away from your already long to-do list and invest time and energy into hiring and onboarding. When it works out as planned, life is good. You can hand over responsibilities and, with less on your plate, focus on your most important work.
When it doesn’t work out, life can be very frustrating. The person you were counting on to lessen your load has become a time drain that demands more hand-holding than you’re up for. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to understand what you want or how to get things done in a way that works. In some instances, getting off on the wrong foot has lasting implications. The person leaves or you let them go — and you’re back at square one in the hiring process all over again.
One of the hardest parts of integrating someone new is helping them understand and fit into the company culture. When you’ve been IN IT for years, it’s hard to remember all the nuances that make up your environment. Unspoken norms exist everywhere: how to dress, how to communicate, response times, meeting etiquette, etc. These are all parts of office culture that can vary — and even conflict — between companies and even among specific departments within a given organization. What worked in one environment may not in another.
I worked for one company where the norm was for meetings to start slowly and somewhat stall for about 10 minutes to give those in back-to-back sessions some buffer time to arrive. Imagine my surprise when meetings in my next organization started PROMPTLY as the minute hand clicked across the line. That took some adjustment!
The most critical thing to watch out for as the manager of a newcomer is any knee-jerk patterned thinking on your part, like, “they should already know that,” or “they’re unprofessional.” When that happens, see if you can get curious about what the world looks like from the other person’s perspective. What’s considered “unprofessional” in one organization may be considered “normal” in another.
Newcomers often have a tendency to hold back from asking questions for fear of looking incompetent, which stems from that same “I should already know this” pattern of thinking. Let them know it’s safe and even encouraged to ask questions. Creating an open channel to discuss the differences between your company and where they came from can help your newcomer adjust and ultimately thrive. They’ll become more aware of their own patterned thinking, pay closer attention to the cultural nuances in your organization, and ideally adopt them more quickly. Hearing about the different ways things worked in other organizations can also introduce unexpected benefits for you and your team.
Onboarding goes well beyond the typical HR process. Creating a steady stream of communication with your new hire — particularly around cultural nuances and expectations — is one of the best investments you can make in your team’s success and happiness.
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