A number of employee exits have their roots in the first few days and weeks that they spend at the new organization. This initial period makes or mars an employee’s perception of the organization and has a telling effect on his will to work there. It’s like visiting your friend after many years – you arrive there one early morning. It is okay if he isn’t there at the train station. But what would you think when you reach his home and he opens the door with a grumpy face? You’d perhaps decide right then that you would not like to stay with him.
An employee is in a complex state of mind when she arrives at her new workplace. On the one hand she is looking forward to the new job, new colleagues, new boss, new environment, etc. But equally she is apprehensive: What would be the culture of this place? How would the boss be? Would the colleagues let her into the group?
I believe that how a new employee is looked after in the first few hours and days goes a long way in determining how long the employee would like to stay in the new place. I call this the ‘2-2-2 principle’ of inducting an employee.
What the ‘2-2- 2 principle’ is premised on, is that the first 2 hours, then the first 2 days and finally the first 2 weeks are the most crucial in onboarding a new employee, and should be taken most seriously. A proper itinerary should be chalked up for the new employee’s induction where key interfaces/ owners spend some time with her not only to familiarize her with her job, but, importantly, to strike a bond. Ideally, this is how it should pan out:
The first two hours
A new employee should be given a warm welcome on arrival at the office. The receptionist (and even the Security) should be aware about his joining. The employee should in fact be asked to come half-an-hour after the usual office start time, so that people are ready to take care of him when he arrives.
After a friendly chat over a coffee, the HR team should help the new employee through the joining formalities. Someone from HR should be available during this time. Once that is done, he should be taken to his line manager and all those with whom he is going to interface in his job.
Later in the day, he should be familiarized with the employee policies of the organization and given stuff to read about the company. He must be taken for lunch by HR-nothing formal in a restaurant; just taking him along wherever you normally eat.
This is also the right time to introduce the company’s Core Values, Vision, Mission and Top Goals. Also make sure that the employee is taken to his workstation and the necessary support -the laptop, mobile phone, email account, stationery, internal telephone directory, etc. are provided to him.
The first two days
After the HR handhold is over, the immediate boss should take the employee in her wings. She should spend as much time with the new employee over the next two days as possible. She should start with introducing herself in a little detail. It is important that the boss and her team understand each other well and develop a bond from day one.
The boss should familiarize the employee with the organization structure, the reporting relationships, top objectives, challenges and opportunities. This is also the time to share job description, KRAs and budgets. Tell him clearly what he can expect. Making him aware of the internal mechanics of the department and the working culture would enable him to learn the ropes quickly.
The employee should be given a detailed handover of the job. If the person who was handling the job so far is there and is disgruntled for some reason, take care to insulate the new employee from him. Any vitiation at this stage would damage the new hire badly.
Basically, these two days are for intense interaction between the boss and the new hire. This is where the boss should win the employee’s confidence which will lay the ground for developing a strong bond. This time should also be utilized to give the employee all the information she needs about the job and the surroundings.
The first two weeks
This is where the boss should gradually induct the new hire into her specific job. All major aspects of the job should be gone into in detail. Residual projects, unfinished tasks by the earlier incumbent should be transitioned and explained in detail. The boss should facilitate personal interactions with the teams reporting into the new hire. Detailed dossiers should be given to him of all key personnel in his team. Meetings should be arranged with important clients, vendors.
And during all this while the atmosphere should be cheerful and supportive. Ensure there is a certain bonhomie at the workplace, regardless of the pressures of business. These two weeks should not only result into the new hire taking over her responsibilities completely, but also in laying the foundations of a healthy relationship with the new team he is going to work with.
If you take care of this crucial 2-2-2 period, you will have a confident and enthusiastic employee willing to give his best to you.