Hiring can be a stressful time, especially for small businesses. The whole process takes time away from performing your core tasks, and time is money. On top of that, bringing on a new employees is often a bittersweet experience. It is exciting to think that your business is expanding, but employees are a big upfront investment. Behind that excitement is often the worry that you have miscalculated the size of this expansion, and that revenue will not grow quickly enough to cover the costs of bringing in a new employee.
With these conflicting feelings about hiring someone new, it is understandable that you want to cut the process short. As soon as you find your ideal employee, or one who you think should work out, you want to get back to business. The key to developing a rockstar employee is what comes next, however.
I worked with a client who was having trouble finding their ideal employees. They had hired a few people over the years who did not live up to expectations. When I asked the management team what happened to those employees, they looked at each other and sort of shrugged.
There was one who never quite seemed at home here. He was smart, but wasn’t motivated for the partner track. When his girlfriend broke up with him, he moved back to the city to be closer to friends and family.
Another one of their employees for whom they had high hopes, just didn’t materialize. She still worked there after 12 years but was no longer on a partnership track. She came in as an intern and had yet to pass her licensing exams. The managing partners seemed to think she would earn her license some day, and then they would be able to promote her.
When I asked about a third former employee of this firm, the managing partners just looked at each other. They couldn’t even agree on whether this employee had quit or been fired. One couldn’t even remember his name. These are all signs that new employees didn’t get much face-time with the management.
None of these former employees, and the one who was still with the firm, had been set up for success. They were not given the proper tools, support, and guidance they needed to become rockstar employees. Because these were educated, and in some cases licensed, professionals, the managing partners figured they would arrive with all they needed to do well in the job.
I eventually uncovered the fact that the firm had no on-boarding system. On his first day, a new employee would sign a couple tax forms and be shown to a desk, possibly in a small office. That was it. He was not welcomed or mentored…he was mostly ignored.
How would you like a new job where you get stuck in an office with no information and left to fend for yourself? What would you tell your friends about this new job at the end of the week? How long would you like to stay at a job where you didn’t even feel welcome on the first day?
Little secret here…on-boarding is not just signing those tax forms and getting an employee manual. On-boarding means to welcome aboard, and it is a very important part of hiring.
When developing an on-boarding system, think food, clothing, and shelter. According to Maslow, these are the basic human needs which must be satisfied first before moving on to more complex requirements. On the first day of his new job, your employee needs to know:
Where to park his car
Where to hang his coat
How to get a cup of coffee
Where to store his lunch
Where the restrooms are
You can brainstorm a whole list of information based on satisfying your new employee’s need for food, clothing, and shelter. Getting these basics will take some of the edge off of that first-day-of-a-new-job nervousness. Once you cover the basics, you can move on to what he needs to know to do his job, and then how he can stand out and get promoted.
Most importantly, a good on-boarding system makes your new employee feel welcome. After all, you chose him to join your team. You should share some of your enthusiasm with him. It will make him feel happy to be there.
The other important aspect of on-boarding is educating your new employee about your company starting on his first day. Happy employees are good brand ambassadors. You want your new employee to understand your brand, so he can accurately represent.
I had another client who had done an excellent job of branding her company. She started out as the embodiment of the brand, and then, trained her employees to pick it up. Her employees had heavy customer contact, so how they represented the brand was essential to sales.
This client of mine would start on the first day with a new employee. First, her employees would be given time to read through the company website to begin to get a feel for it. Then, they were sent into the social media accounts, again, to become familiar with the look and feel of the brand. Finally, she had her employees listen in to calls between her and her clients.
Even for employees who do not have contact with customers, it is important that they understand your branding to some extent. Employees go home and talk about their jobs. On the week-ends, they get together with their friends and swap work stories. An employee who is happy with his job and is proud of the company he works for will tell much more flattering stories about your business.