Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Connectivity in "Pre-Boarding" Part 2

In part 1 of this post we looked at the risks associated with not creating sufficient engagement with a new recruit BEFORE they start their new position.

Companies are starting to do a better job of addressing the timeframe AFTER the employee begins their new job, through much more extensive onboarding programs as well as linking the new recruit with internal buddies, mentors, and external onboarding coaches.

During the "pre-boarding" timeframe the options for fostering engagement are wide ranging and increasingly creative. As long as the hiring company is not a direct competitor, beginning to create strong connectivity during the 2-3 weeks or even longer before the start date is key.

1. Asking the new recruit how they would like their name to appear on business cards and name plates so that these can be in-place when they arrive. Better still-- send the new cards home to the new hire before they begin so they can hand them out to current colleagues.

2. Gifts baskets of company product, flowers, balloons, etc. are small touches that can mean the world. Here's an exerpt from an email I just received...

I remember [the new employer] reaching out to me before I joined. I can still recall leaving [my former company] feeling sad, lonely, uncertain and walking home to see a beautiful bouquet sitting at my doorstep welcoming me to the [new company]family. That was when I didn't feel like what I was doing was so daunting.

3. Brief phone calls of welcome from the new boss, team mates and even direct reports can create connection. (as long as work isn't dumped in the new recruit's lap before they even join)

4. Being invited to attend pre-planned company social events, offsites, sports activities even before the start date.

5. Being provided access to internal "social networking" systems that are being established within some Fortune 500 organizations and smaller high-tech companies. New recruits can find out about interest groups, like-minded peers, and informal initiatives that can provide a powerful engagement hook.

6. Being made aware of social responsibility initiatives and community volunteer programs that new recruits may be able to get involved with before they even become employees.

7. Being linked up with a "buddy" or "peer" who also joined the company less than a year ago.

8. Being linked up with a more senior mentor to help advise on "how things really get done around here".

9. Providing access to information on success factors and derailers when starting in a new position. Giving new recruits at all levels appropriate resources to support them in ramping up effectively i.e. e-courses, workbooks, etc.

10. Linking new hires to group coaching or one-on-one onboarding coaching services to start supporting them even before they join the new company. The time before starting a new job can be optimal for reflection and building the necessary self-awareness to succeed in the new role.

Increasingly, my relationship with a new recruit as an onboarding coach begins once the offer is accepted.

Highly progressive organizations are even assigning a coach to highly desirable candidates to support them through the various interview phases. The external coaching relationship is sufficiently at arms length from the employer that the candidate is able to have a highly confidential and objective sounding board for considering more than one offer. At the end of the day, the best employee is one who has made the RIGHT choice for themselves as to where they will thrive. Coaching can support this process effectively and with integrity. Even if the sponsoring company's offer is rejected, the positive word-of-mouth fostered by this interaction puts the company in VERY high regard when the candidate shares the experience of working with an objective coach with his/her colleagues.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Connectivity In "Pre-Boarding"- Part 1

Now that the term "onboarding" has become part of the business vernacular, I've been increasingly turning my attention to educating clients about the power of effective "pre-boarding". This is the timeframe BEFORE the candidate joins a new employer.

There are plenty of horror stories about what happens on a poorly executed "day one" for a new hire. You know the deal...
- the boss is too busy to spend any time or is even away on vacation
- the office isn't ready
- the business cards aren't printed
- the receptionist keeps turning away calls for this person she's never heard of
- the computer isn't connected
- the message waiting light is blinking madly but the new hire has no idea how to use the phone system
...and on it goes. Disengagement begins on day #1.

Now, let's step back further in the process to look at how engagement has been fostered since the employment offer was presented.

Consider this scenario...

After a long, involved search process involving many interviews, Carl was sent a letter of offer via courier. On the day he received his offer-- a Friday-- Carl faxed in his acceptance and then didn't hear anything further except for a call from the payroll department telling him to bring in his birth certificate on his first day, two weeks from then.

Meanwhile, when Carl met with his current boss to deliver his resignation, she was gracious and congratulated him about his new job. She said she wished she'd known he was interested in moving from Marketing to Sales as his company would have loved to have supported him with such a cross-functional opportunity. She spoke highly of his contribution and said he would be very difficult to replace.

When he told his colleagues he was leaving, they were shocked and clearly saddened. They expressed how much they'd miss his jokes and family stories...not to mention his reliable commitment to the team. Carl was treated to many one-on-one lunches over the next two weeks where there were plenty of laughs shared about memories over the past 6 years.

They are poured on the love!! And what's more...since Carl really is a great find... the comments made were all very sincere.

Meanwhile, Carl's new boss took a vacation during this two week timeframe. He didn't reach out to Carl at all!

Carl's wife was annoyed about the challenges presented by his new job. The commute would be longer and he wouldn't be able to share the daycare pick-up responsibilities any longer.

Is it any wonder that Carl would begin to have second thoughts before he even begins his new job? Imagine if he experiences a bad first day!

This is a new hire retention challenge in the making. It happens time and again.

In a hot market for talent...strong employees who plan to leave their organizations are heavily counter-offered, "shown the love" and are increasingly opting to reverse their decision. Many are returning to the employers that they know and where they have emotional attachments. "Pre-boarding" or beginning a relationship with the new hires before they even join a new company is absolutely critical.

For ideas to create Connectivity in Pre-Boarding, see Part 2 in this Blog.

I invite your comments on pre-boarding experiences.

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