3 Ways to Kill Your Employees

See Ya

How many ways, leaders? How many ways?

  • How many ways can a leader go through the day and put a dagger in the heart of their employees?
  • How many ways can a leader suck the very life out of their team members?
  • How many ways can a leader snuff the life out of the esprit de corp at their organization?

I count 3…

Disengagement in The House

Out-dated hiring and orientation practices can create disengagement before the employee has a chance to learn about the firm. Do not commit these three blunders: Speed Dating; Poor Hiring; and Death by PowerPoint.

The Story of The unVictor

Consider the plight of my real-life acquaintance named Victor. A friend for many years, he arrived for his first day of work with a consulting firm in Chicago only to discover that no one at the front desk knew who he was. His supervisor, he found out, had not planned for his arrival. Hired, ironically, as a communications consultant, he had no telephone, no computer, and his “office” was a small desk located in a busy hallway.

His supervisor could not fit him in to her busy schedule his first day so she set up his orientation for . While my friend did not quit on the spot, he immediately questioned his own decision to join the firm and later resigned a month later.

It is relatively easy to pick out the mistakes the supervisor made. It is also not hard to come up with lists of the steps she could taken to begin effectively assimilating Victor into his new job. Most of it comes down to planningtwo-days later, communication, and an effective on-boarding process.

On-boarding is the entire process of recruiting through firm orientation and assimilation.

The data shows that an effective on-boarding program reduces turnover in the long run, gets the employee up to speed and productive in a shorter time frame, and encourages employee engagement. Most firms do not have a formal on-boarding process and thus botch their first opportunity to build employee engagement and commitment.

The old saying holds true; “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

Daggers, Vacuums, and Pillows

Here are the three biggest errors that leaders do in snuffing out their employee’s engagement levels.

1) The Business Version of Speed Dating

Like speed dating, research shows that, on average, the decision to hire or not hire is made in the first three minutes of an interview. Typically, in a 30 minute discussion, the decision to hire is reached based on the prospect’s appearance and demeanor. The manager uses the remaining 27 minutes to rationalize that the decision was based on solid, objective fact.

Based on research by Profiles International, a 30-minute interview will yield an average success rate of only 14% after the first 12 months. Considering that a $50,000 per year employee over 20 years represents a $1 million investment, you may want to consider how throughout the screening process should be. Research illustrates that a comprehensive, in-depth, behavior-based interview coupled with pre-employment assessments and background checks will produce an 85-90% hiring success rate after 12 months.

2) Hiring for Knowledge and Skills

Knowledge and skills are not the best predictor of success on the job. The best predictor based on studies by the Wall Street Journal is “job fit.” In other words, will the person fit in with your culture, direction and your values?  Will they be accountable and work well with the rest of your team?

While the better firms also look for knowledge and skills, the search doesn’t stop there. They also test how the candidate applied their skills in a comparable job and firm and examine the individual for fit. This approach requires that you establish criteria in each area important to successful performance based on a sampling of current employees doing the same job well.

Success also requires a behaviorally-based interview. Using the hiring criteria you develop, set up a pre-employment screening process. Research by the Droste Group illustrates these three examples of what happens when an effective pre-employment screening process is used:

  • A health care organization reduced first-year turnover by more than 40%
  • Medical costs associated with on-the-job injuries at a theme park were reduced by 43%
  • Top-scoring employees for a distribution company were seven times more likely to have outstanding attendance than low scorers.

3) Death by PowerPoint

Employee orientation is a critical step in the on-boarding process and can easily be done badly. In many firms, it resembles an assembly line of forms and benefit jargon presented by a low level HR administrator in dire need of a new personality. In large firms you may have to sit through a boring two-hour ordeal better known as “death by PowerPoint.”

Orientation should be viewed as an opportunity to introduce your firm in a way that helps to acclimate the new recruit to your strategic direction, firm values, and most critical of all, culture.

The experience should be entertaining and fun to engage the new employee from the outset.

Employees who are involved in orientation programs that do more than just present benefits and forms to be completed report feeling better about their new firm and their decision to join.

In the long run, a solid on-boarding process in which you screen for job fit, the willingness to be accountable, and a proven, behaviorally-based ability to do the job will help your firm to build an engaged and committed workforce.

So how are you doing in keeping your employee engagement alive? What are you doing to make sure that you do not kill the joy, love, and positive practices that keeps your organization green and growing? How can you do better in making sure that you update your leadership game to keep your them engaged? I would love to hear your stories!

——————–
Joel Harris Head is Managing Partner of Headwinds Ltd
He helps clients build more engaged and accountable teams and stronger leaders
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog

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3 Responses

  1. Some companies are so focused on speed, efficiency & the bottom line that they put systems in place that take the personal aspect out of the hiring process. New employees come in feeling like they are already replaceable.

  2. I think there is a lot to be said for the value of the mentor/coach relationship in the on-boarding of new employees. This is such an overlooked necessity due to budget and time constraints. What is going to cost more in the long-run is when you have to keep replacing employees. Doing it right the first time will always be more cost efficient.

  3. This is all jargon so the very people that are advising you can sell you their candidate assessment and HR coaching programs. I’ve observed that most companies that use these assessments have a far higher turn over than the ones that simply hire with common sense. You want good employees then treat them well, empower them, and make them accountable. As far as assuring a fit for new employees – simply be sure that the corporate culture, salary, career path, and geography are compatible with their personal life and goals.

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