It’s a crucial first step many managers fail to take. Swamped by other work, they greet their new hires, introduce them to the employees they’re replacing, and leave to attend to other pressing duties. On the surface, this makes sense. The departing employee can easily explain the work that needs to be done.
Beneath the surface, this approach carries with it significant risk. If you’re a manager, you want your new employee’s first experience with you to be “I’m looking forward to working with you. Let’s establish what your priorities are and how we can best work together” and not “Hello, see you later.”
Although your departing employee may be able to outline your new employee’s job duties, they may also communicate an impression different from how you want your new hire to see the job and you, particularly if he or she is leaving for a “better” job. Not only do you want your new employee to bond with you rather than with your departing employee, but your soon-to-be-former employee may even “poison the well.” First impressions count — make sure that you create your new hire’s first impression of you.
The several hours you carve out of your schedule to connect with your new hire will pay off in reduced recruitment costs. One of the most expensive types of turnover any organization faces is “first year churn” — when new hires on whom you’ve spent time and effort recruiting and training leave before you receive a return on your investment.
Here is how and why this happens. The employee you just hired may receive another enticing job offer after they join your organization. Worse, an unhappy employee on your team may pull your new hire aside and voice concerns. When this happens, most new hires hesitate to let their manager know what they’ve heard, both to protect the informant and because they don’t want to admit that they listened. Either occurrence may lead to new hire remorse and create festering doubts. Your job is to prove to your new employee that they made the right choice in joining your team.
Remember, you want your employee to invest full effort for 40-plus hours a week. Compare this employment investment with the last time you invested a major chunk of money. Before you parted with your money, you asked questions such as “What will I receive from this investment?”; “What’s the upside potential?”; “What downside risks exist?”; and “What do I need to contribute to reap the maximum benefits?” During your employee’s first days and weeks, you need to provide answers to the above questions if you want to capture their full commitment.
Recent hires who feel uncertain about their manager, coworkers or job assignments begin to think about leaving. They also evaluate minor difficulties negatively instead of brushing them off. Counter this downward spiral. Build a strong relationship with your new hires and give them clear expectations so they align with what you need from them from the start. For example, do you want your new exempt employee to realize s/he may often need to give more than 40 hours weekly to the job? Do you prefer emails, texts or calls? On what topics do you want to be briefed? Do you want your new employee to schedule time weekly or to pop into your office whenever they hit a snag? You can also ask your new employee how they hope you’ll communicate with them.
In addition to talking, listen. Knowing exactly what drives and satisfies each new member of your team helps you build a high-performing team. You want them to be successful, so they stay and make you, your department and your company successful. With each new hire, take that crucial first step.