When we hire a new employee, we expect that if they are an experienced salesperson, they already know how to sell, or if they have managed before, then they have to know how to manage. A purchasing agent is a purchasing agent, right? Pretty much true all around. However, many companies fail to acknowledge that even those experienced new hires are coming to your company not knowing how your computer system works, that your order entry system is foreign to them and even the chain of command sometimes is not fully explained. They want to come in clearly knowing their role in the organization, the layers of management and what action items
are expected of them over the next 30-60 days.
Let’s take the true story of ‘Ken’. He was hired by a successful multi-branch distributor awhile back to be their newest Branch Manager. Ken was very experienced and knew what was typically expected of a Manager in our industry. Truth be told, it wasn’t long before Ken started having doubts about making the move to this company. No one was around to ‘show him the ropes’ except the District Manager and that was for just a few days and he was gone. Basically, it was the old, ‘run the branch and keep it in the black’ along with ‘ask anyone around here how things operate and you’ll do OK’.
Ken didn’t know the company protocols, or who to contact when branch or employee issues came up. The idea of ‘winging it’ in this critical position was not what Ken signed up for. The story did not have a happy ending as over the course of the next two months, the situation left him with no choice but to leave. He felt lost and powerless. If only someone had taken the time in the beginning to ensure timely answers to questions, an advocate of some sort, and a clear understanding of the processes within the company, then perhaps the outcome would have been different. All it would have taken was perhaps another local Manager to meet with him frequently; some sort of fellow brethren to relate to. Something as simple as that.
The above could have been prevented by an onboarding system. Onboarding is a system where a new employee is simply shown the ropes of his new company and position over a period of time. There are several programs that if implemented correctly can make onboarding strategies successful. A very successful version is one that would pair an internal employee with a new hire. We would call that “the buddy system” or someone could be designated as “Program Mentor”, “Orientation Coach”, etc.
People just want to feel a part of the group. We can all remember the first day on the job for every company in which we have worked. Those out there that have been fortunate enough to have had dedicated people show you around and be there with you I’m sure created a welcome atmosphere in which the first-week stress was diminished dramatically.
According to a Gallup poll, in which 3 million employees have been surveyed since 1997, only 29% of employees are truly engaged in the work they do. That means 71% of your employees would probably not think hard before leaving for a better (or maybe just different) opportunity. 54% of them are ‘checked-out’ and going through the motions while the remaining 17% are undermining the work of the other producers. (The Gallup Management Journal)
How do we get our producers engaged? Below are some tough questions that should be asked of your employees. Here are some of the questions from the Gallup poll:
- Do you know what is expected of you at work?
- Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
- In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
- At work, do your opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
- Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
- In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
All managers, supervisors and owners need to ask these questions of their employees. The results may surprise you. Whether it is during review time or right now, these questions are critical for the retention of your people. Each one of your employees has different strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals, motivations, values and learning styles. By understanding and acting on these differences, you should be able to get a lot more out of your team.