the ceo magazine, business management,
Alvin D. Jeffery and Robin L. Jarvis

Acquiring new staff takes time, talent and money.  That makes it extra important to retain the ones you hire. Get those new hires started on the right foot!  Here are some things to remember whether you are bringing in that new Vice-President or a new software engineer:

  1. Tell them they made the right decision, even before they arrive.  Just because they have said, “Yes” doesn’t mean they won’t still have doubts.  Call and congratulate them for making the smart decision to join your company!  Give them a preview of some of the projects they’ll be engaging with when they arrive.  Make sure they know they made the right decision.   Teach them about the importance of values, ethics and history – all key components in your organization’s culture.
  2. Help them get to know others.  Just because Jane has been a Vice-President of Marketing before doesn’t mean that she knows who she should meet and get to know during her onboarding process.  Tell her!  Have a list of the key people she should meet within the first 90 days or so.  Have someone knowledgeable with all of the people in the work setting compile the list of names, along with best ways to contact and what each person’s role it.
  3. Set reasonable expectations.  Remember that it may take this person longer to accomplish something simple just because he or she doesn’t know the process, who to talk to, or the easiest way to get it done.  Keep the newness factor in mind when giving deadlines.  And, just because someone has been a star performer in a previous company does not mean that you should expect grand slams for the first few at-bats!  Let them get used to the new field, the new pitching staff and the new bats!
  4. Provide feedback.  Hiring, especially for C-suite players is expensive.  Don’t assume that because the person is an executive, that he or she will know everything from the get-go!  New hires want to know they are succeeding and where or when they are not keeping up…tell them!  Be respectful and tell them.  You’d want to know if it were you, right? One of the worst things I have seen is a senior executive telling me that we have to terminate one of his new vice-presidents.  We talked for some time and I said, “Have you told Joe any of this?  Does he know it’s not working?”  The reply was, “He’s a Vice-President.  I shouldn’t have to tell him.”  As Robin Williams would have said in Dead Poets Society, “Ding…thanks for playing.”  Needless to say, we gave Joe a lot of coaching and feedback and he was able to turn around his performance.
  5. Provide a “buddy” – this is the person that he or she can go to for those “stupid” questions.  This way your new hire doesn’t have to ask you and feel “stupid.”  It’s better to have a peer as a buddy than a direct report. 
  6. Check in regularly.  Don’t meet your new hire the first day, show him to his desk and then disappear.  You have a vested interest in his success.  For the first two or three months, have a weekly check-in.  This will help ensure the success of your new hire…and his success is part of yours!  During these check-ins, ask for your new hire’s perspective on the big picture for the organization.  Check for how they’re assimilating with their new teams.  Ask the questions you wish someone had asked you when you started your new job!

About the Authors

Alvin D. Jeffery and Robin L. Jarvis are education consultants and authors of Staff Educator’s Guide to Clinical Orientation: Onboarding Solutions for Nurses. The book highlights the importance of orientation, to help ensure new employees are appreciating the program rather than enduring it. Jeffery and Jarvis designed their book as a quick reference guide for orientation, equipping busy industry leaders and training managers with helpful worksheets and simple tools to make the orientation process as easy and effective as possible, sharing a great lesson in professional development.


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