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An effective search process consists of four steps – identification, attraction, evaluation, and successful acceptance of an offer. Whether your most recent hire came from an internal referral, an in-house recruitment team, or an executive search firm, knowing that a key role is filled can feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Your work here is done!

Or is it just getting started?

A study by The Wynhurst Group found that over 20% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment, and that new employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were almost 60% more likely to be with the organization after three years.

Transition breakdowns occur when new employees either misunderstand the essential demands of the situation, or they lack the skill and flexibility to adapt to them. In either situation, a responsibility exists during the first three months on the behalf of a hiring manager to help new hires build significant momentum during that transition. If the goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes for an employee to become a net contributor of value, what steps can be taken to achieve this goal?

Diagnosis Before Prescription

Often, challenges of transition acceleration vary depending upon situational factors, and so it is essential to match the strategy to the situation. The key is to engage in careful diagnosis and then adapt some general principles to the demands of the situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask past hires for feedback on the onboarding process! Solicit feedback when the experience is fresh enough to garner recent perspectives, and be open to continuous improvement. Most organizations conduct exit interviews, but very few proactively interview employees to gauge their satisfaction while they still are happily employed with the company.

New Skills

Throughout the entirety of the interviewing process, conversations revolved around the prospective hire’s existing skills and experiences. If those skills and experiences are what landed this individual in the new role, it will come as a surprise to most of them that a common mistake is to believe they will be successful in the new role by simply continuing to do what they did in their previous role.

Yes, common responsibilities will exist from organization to organization, but in the face of so much change it is necessary to carefully examine and align daily expectations with existing skillsets.

Instead, help a new employee embrace the feeling, and fear, of a steep learning curve. Help avoid a vicious cycle of frustration and defensiveness by figuring out what it is they need to learn, by when, and with whose help.

Be aware of the other end of this spectrum – the compulsive need to take immediate action on everything and anything possible! Put a specific, paced learning program in place and evaluate progress consistently.

Secure Early Victories

An initial transition period lasts only a few months, but the goal of those few months should be to secure early wins. The challenge is that the term “win” can be a relative term! There must be mutual understanding of measurable objectives in the first few months; this will not only ensure accountability, but build faith from both sides that this is a successful and long-term fit. Eventually, strategic issues and redefined systems and restructuring of organizational goals can all be conquered, but first it is necessary to build credibility in the short term to lay a foundation for long term goals.

Cultural Connections

No matter how strong a connection a new hire has made during the interviewing process, it is critical to create cultural connections with employees outside of the direct reporting structure. It can be difficult for existing and tenured staff to adjust to outsiders, and transitory mentor partners can make a tremendous difference for a new employee. This mentor can be responsible for setting up a group lunch, a welcome happy hour, and a dinner with spouses over the course of the first two months. Keep the new hire’s family in mind; a new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially with relocation.  Include spouses and children if/when possible to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable within the organization and community.

Creator and Host,

Carol Schultz

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