Have you ever hired someone you thought was a top performer, only to later find out that their performance was mediocre? Do some of your new hires seem to have difficulty getting started and meeting your expectations?
If so, you are not alone. Many organizations struggle with the initiation process. This can result in unacceptable productivity, low morale and high turnover.
It doesn’t have to be like that. There are four simple, methodical steps you can take to ensure a productive and successful start for your new employees.
I. CLARIFY ROLES
Whether management or front-line, new employees need to get an understanding about their roles in the organization. What are all the functions they are responsible for? What are the direct and indirect reporting relationships? Who do they need to consult with prior to making a decision? Who do they need to inform after making a decision? What are the roles of others in the organization that this new employee should know about?
II. SET MEASURABLE GOALS
“What gets measured, gets done.”
You want to avoid any possible confusion about the direction your new employees should take. As part of the interview process, it is a good idea for employees to understand exactly what they are expected to accomplish during the first year of employment. Even if thoroughly discussed during the interview process, there will usually be modifications or clarifications after date of hire.
Ideally, goals will be measured by some combination of quantity, quality, and/or timeliness, i.e., amount of sales per month, collection percentages, or tasks to be completed by a certain date.
DO NOT set vague goals such as “improve teamwork” or “better customer service.” Rather, identify the key measurements that can be impacted. For example, instead of saying “improve phone service,” say “reduce average speed of answer to 30 seconds by October 1.”
Most companies have a process in place to ensure that new hires get informed about policies, health plans, fringe benefits, etc.
It is equally important to help your new employees understand the company culture. What are the values that the organization lives by? What are the unwritten rules that would help new employees stay out of trouble and become productive more quickly? How are disputes handled? Is there an open door policy, or are complaints viewed as an annoyance? Are there senior employees who can serve as mentors? What are the priorities among customer service, employee satisfaction and profitability?
Prompt and honest feedback is critical. Did you ever hear someone say “I thought I was doing a good job, and my performance review was OK, then I got let go”?
Try to build a system whereby new employees get feedback early, perhaps at 30 days and then again at six months. Regardless of organization size, your organization will perform better if employees and their managers are on the same page regarding the employee’s performance and what can be done better.