Do Unto Others
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We are big on treating people the way we would want to be treated – the Golden Rule. That’s why when we hired two new people to join our team, we thought long and hard about not just our on-boarding process, but also how we integrate new employees into our culture.
When I showed up for my first day of work at my first job out of college, I was 10 minutes early, excited an ready to get to work. What I got when I walked through the front door and introduced myself to the receptionist was, “Who are you?” Starting to panic and wonder if I had misunderstood, I repeated my name and told her I was to start work that day. She made some calls (this was not a big company) and with her hand cupped over the phone asked me, “Who hired you?”
I had been hired by the owner, who was on vacation for the next week and who apparently hadn’t told anyone that he hired me. My excitement waned very quickly and I was wondering what kind of mistake I had made taking this job. The Human Resources director, didn’t have me fill out any paperwork because she didn’t know what I was being paid or even what I was being paid to do and she needed to confirm my story. So they put me in a conference room and had me watch sales training videos from 8:30 to 5:00 each day until the owner came back. It was a lousy way to start a job and I never felt comfortable in that environment.
When we talked about our onboarding process, I made sure to tell that story. Sometimes it’s best to start with “Here’s what we don’t want” and work up to “What we do want”! We wanted to do it right. As much as we would have loved for these two people to start right away, we wanted to make sure we had everything ready for them – so we asked for 3 weeks. We went through our internal checklist: We made sure we had the right equipment. We got them set up in all of our systems, like email and our corporate CRM. We ordered personalized business cards and all of the supplies for their desks. We had their key fobs made, their parking spots reserved and even made sure they could scan to their email address from the printer. We made sure everything worked so when they got there, it was a positive experience.
For us, being busy getting everything ready for their arrival, the three weeks went by pretty fast, but we thought about those three weeks from our new employees’ perspective. Three weeks is a long time to be thinking and wondering about your new job, so we kept in touch. Andy was going to be traveling so he sent a handwritten note that first week letting them know how excited we were that they were joining our team and to let them know who to contact if they had any questions while he was out of the country. I sent them a note during week two letting them know what all we were doing to get ready for their first day and I inserted one of their business cards in the note. I also had their study materials sent to their homes so they could familiarize themselves with them.
Meanwhile, Stephanie, who would be their manager and trainer once they started, was corresponding via email and phone to coordinate paperwork – like their offer letter and NDA, background checks, etc. Prior to the big day, Stephanie sent an outline of their first day which included where to park, how to dress, what time to be there, and what they would be doing every minute they were here. It covered what they needed to bring for their on-boarding paperwork (I-9 and W-4). We tried to answer their questions so they wouldn’t have to ask them because we think people feel more confident and at ease if they know what to expect.
We were also doing all of this to show them how we do things at KIG and to begin integrating them into our culture. We follow a process, we educate our clients and try to answer their questions before they have to ask. We treat people this way so they have no reservations about working for us or with us.
Really good employees typically have options, just like really good clients do. If you want to attract and retain both, you have to consider how you are treating them through the on-boarding process and how you are welcoming them into your organization and culture. The sooner you can get them feeling like part of the team, the better chance you have of keeping that good employee or good client for the long-term. I considered myself a very loyal employee and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t sitting in that conference room planning my exit strategy from my first job. It was a bad first impression and it was all down hill from there.
If you have questions about on-boarding employees or how to define your culture, give us a call!