You work hard to find, interview, and hire the right employees. They have great skills, great experience, and great attitude. So once they’re hired and in the door, all you need to do is set them loose, right?
Not so fast. Knowing how to do a job is certainly important, but approaching a job with the right perspective and right mindset — in short, understanding the why — means everything.
Many bosses assume the conversations they have during the interview process are enough.
1. Thoroughly describe how the business creates value.
New employees need to learn how to do their jobs, but first they need to thoroughly understand your company’s underlying value proposition and competitive advantage.
No matter what your business, one or two things truly drive results. Maybe it’s quality. Maybe it’s service. Maybe you’re the low-cost provider. Maybe it’s the personal connection you make with each individual customer, and the true sense of community you’ve worked hard to create.
Other aspects are important, but for every business, one or two are absolutely make-or-break.
Start there — and then go further. Explain how the employee’s job directly creates value. Explain how the employee’s job directly helps the business create and sustain a competitive advantage. Make a clear and direct connection between the employee’s efforts and the company’s main purpose.
As a new employee, I certainly need to know what to do, but more important, I need to know why I do it. Always start with why.
Then you can move on to what.
2. Map out the employee’s internal and external customers.
Every new employee has external customers, even if he or she never meets them, and every new employee definitely has internal customers.
No job exists in a vacuum; understanding the needs of every constituent helps define not just the job but also the way it should be done.
Take time to explain how the employee will create value for the business while serving all of his or her internal and external customers. Achieving that balance is often tricky — so don’t assume new employees will eventually figure it out on their own.
Besides, they shouldn’t have to figure it out on their own.
3. Set immediate goals — and explain that you will start giving feedback right away.
Successful businesses execute. Set a productivity tone by ensuring that every new employee completes at least one job-related task on his or her first day.
Why? Not only do you establish that results are all-important, but also, every new employee will go home feeling a sense of personal achievement. (A whole day, or days, spent in orientation is boring and unfulfilling, and it makes the eventual transition to “work” harder.)
So definitely focus on training, but make sure every day involves a blend of training and accomplishment.
How? Break large processes down into manageable chunks. That way new employees can immediately see how their role directly connects to creating value for the company, and you get great opportunities to provide immediate, constructive feedback — which helps new employees do an even better job of creating value for the company.
4. Reinforce the reasons you hired them.
Every employee is hired for one or two specific reasons, but often those reasons get lost in all the fluff of the interview process. (Be honest: It’s nice to find a well-rounded employee, but most of the time you really need an employee who is a superstar at doing X.)
Don’t just assume that reason is understood. Tell your new employee why you hired her — not the role she will fill, but why she is such a great fit for that role. Praise her skills and experience, and praise her attitude and work ethic.
What new employee doesn’t like that?
More important, you’ll reinforce the connection between her skills, experience, attitude, and work ethic and the actual job you hired her to perform.
Don’t let new employees lose sight of what makes them different. They possess qualities and attributes other candidates didn’t. Explain what those qualities are and how they helped you make your hiring decision.
Few statements are more motivating and set the stage better than “We hired you because you’re absolutely awesome at developing and empowering people, and we’re all excited about the huge difference you’re going to make for our employees.”