Taking on a new employee?
This short piece is about getting off to a good start with a new employee – and it is about much more than having a plan for the induction period. When you take on a new member of staff your focus is very naturally on the job you need them to do. You will have spent some weeks, or possibly months, doing all the things in support of the recruitment process that represent good or best practice. I do not intend to go through a full list of tasks but you know the sort of things I mean – reviewing the organisation, specifying the role, identifying the skills required – and perhaps the personality profile of the perfect candidate. No matter how diligently you perform these tasks there remains some element of risk with any recruitment. The purpose of all this good practice serves to minimise the risk to the business. However, it remains the case that building a good working relationship over first few weeks or months will have a major bearing on the overall success of any new hire.
All of my clients are in the SME sector and most of them want to grow. My strongly held opinion is that business owner needs to create “capacity” before they can grow – I see evidence of this in almost all of my accounts. This is good entrepreneurial behaviour – the balance of risk and return. As well as “capacity” businesses that are committed to growth need to review their key processes on a regular basis to ensure that the business can “scale up” operations in the key areas that will impacted by growth. For a business with growth aspirations, hiring new people to create “capacity” is a much more critical activity than simply filling a vacancy. In these circumstances, the minutiae of the role – dotting every I and crossing every T – is less important than ensuring the person has the right talents and attitudes, and will be a good fit for the rest of the team.
Gaining a fresh perspective
The first few months is a period during which both parties should learn from one another – and by this I do not mean the mechanical details of what to do and how it should be done. A new employee brings a fresh perspective to the business – a view unclouded by established thinking. They are a key source of insight into other ways of working and new ways to achieve the old objectives. New employees are a key source of innovation and something every business owner should welcome. So, rather than force someone into role that has been defined down to the smallest detail it makes sense to preserve some flexibility and see what incremental skills and abilities the employee brings to the business. I suggest to all my clients that they ask a new employee to keep a personal diary for their first month or two on the job and to use this diary to record their first impressions – the good, the bad and the ugly! They are seeing things for the first time with a fresh pair of ideas and while their insight may or may not prove to be valuable, it is definitely fragile and is quickly lost. Reviewing this diary with the new employee regularly throughout their induction should play a really important part in ensuring the induction experience is positive and successful – and could present exciting new ideas to grow the business more quickly.