Lessons from a new Hire
We’re hiring new people and I’ve noticed something about the ones who are driven to succeed. They hunger for positive feedback and instruction. On the other hand, organizational drifters don’t seem to need nor do they desire the same level of feedback. Drifters may actual resent feedback.
I overheard a new hire…
Anxiously, she said to the supervisor training her, “I need to feel like I’m making a contribution.” Frankly, that’s what any supervisor wants to hear from a new person. Her statement reveals some important leadership truths.
Affirming high potential people…
#1. New people committed to success can’t get enough feedback.
#2. Positive feedback for new hires reinforces desired behaviors during an employee’s most moldable days.
#3. Those driven to achieve need more affirmation than those who aren’t.
#4. Correction is least offensive to those who aren’t expected to know everything.
#5. Do more than affirm behavior by highlighting progress. Affirm the desire to excel. You may have the tendency to brush off questions like, “Am I doing ok,” by replying, “Oh, you’re doing just great.” If you do, you’ve missed a golden opportunity. Rather than brushing of the need for affirmation, speak to their motive. Say, “You’re asking the perfect question. I’m delighted you care about succeeding.”
#6. Get feedback on your feedback. Once a week ask your new hire, “How’s my feedback?”
A suggested practice…
It may seem counter-intuitive but I’m suggesting you ramp up positive feedback to those you perceive as high potentials and high achievers. Please understand I’m not suggesting you stop giving feedback to poor performers. However, it seems to me that you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck if you affirm and instruct the highs more than the poors.
Positive reinforcement works best
on those passionate about success.
How can organizations get new hires off on the right foot?
This is a very interesting and thought provoking article.
One thing I would like to add to this is that the unconscious filters (in NLP they are known as Metaprogrammes) that form a part of our personality include one for our “Frame of Refrence” which determines how we measure ourselves. Those with a strong “External” frame will constantly seek, encourage and offer feedback whilst those with a strong “Internal'” frame will be less welcoming and, indeed, may even resent it.
This can apply to all – new hires, experienced hands and “drifters.”
So, a person not welcoming feedback should not be confused with a drifter. Check out their personal style preferences first.
I’m delighted an NLP person chimed in on this one. Thanks for expanding our thinking and adding both depth and breath to the conversation.
Keep’em coming. 🙂
“Correction is least offensive to those who aren’t expected to know everything.”
Wow. I love that quote! Reminds me of a commercial I once watched by John Deere which ended with, “Everything we learn goes into everything we do.” That’s how I want to live.
Thanks for the great post. Very insightful…as usual.
Thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot coming from a person like you.
Remarkable post, Dan. Keep up the great work.
Scott, you mentioned my favorite sentence.
We get the life we practice.
Tracy – Turns out practise doesn’t make perfect. Practise makes permanent. So be careful what you practise… 🙂
Scott, to piggyback on your statement here, one of my favorite sayings about practice is “If we are practicing the wrong things, it doesn’t matter how much we practice, it’s still wrong!”
I guess one of the challenges is to identify these high achievers during the recruitment process.
Asking questions about their past responses to feedback could assist.
I see you have added value by expanding the context in a great way. Love your idea of an interview question that centers on responses to feedback.
Success to you,
Good morning Dan,
Just caught the notice about your new post and was intrigued by the subject. High achievers are passionate about success AND results. So I am sending a hugh round of applause on your position to give tangible feedback about progress — especially to high achievers.
As for what else an org. can do to get a new hire off to the right start?
1. Have a very “active” first day. If you ask most people what happened on the first day of work, they tell similar tales about filling out forms, being given a tour, bla blah blah. Meanwhile, igniting excitement and passion goes unaddressed. The first day, instead, could highlight the top challenges, what’s being done, where that person fits in, etc…
2. Team member welcome! First days are tough. The existing team has comfort and trust with each other. Give a new team member the “gift of trust’ the first day rather than the ‘prove yourself’ attitude. This is not a sorority or fraternity rush or hazing. This is real life with results at stake.
3. Establish a “lifeline” person for that team member for the first week or so — for substantive issues. It helps to avoid costly mistakes, gets the team member productive more quickly, and communicates the culture of teamwork from the start!
You keep’em coming with insight and practical application.
#3 makes so much sense. I’ve see new hires walking around trying not to bother people yet needing guidance. They tip toe… Following your suggesting is a great way to smooth and expedite the integration and effectiveness of new hires.
Your insights and consistent generosity are why I’m putting you up as the first “Featured Blogger” on the soon to be posted “Featured Blogger” page.
Great points. With #3 – a lifeline person should also arrange for the new person to go to lunch with a couple different members of the team for a few days. Lunch tends to be a tribal thing and this can help the new person fit in right away.
Also, during the interview process, a question that I ask all candidates to ask and all hiring managers be prepared to answer: “What do I have to do in the first 30 days, first 6 months, and first year – to be considered a success and high achiever in this position?”
If this is on the table from the beginning – it can help this person focus and become a top performer.
Drifters resist and shift because they have low tolerance and low morale. But how to align drifters with committed ones? I think, this is leadership challenge.And with nurturing and perseverance, we can succeed. You have given perfectly right question- you are asking the perfect question. When you say this’ target automatically opens up and becomes honest. And this process creates trust which makes feedback healthy and workable. So, creation of others identity is crucial for development. The person should sense and feel his or her identity. Feed back is probably the most effective tool to retain new hires. I do agree to your point that you don’t always need to give positive feedback to poor performer but the person should feel that his contribution is important and he has identity. The most important factor that keeps personal and professional growth and development is trust and respect. Rest are outcomes of these.
Your comment reaches into the realm of helping low performers and give at least one important idea. Low morale = low performance. How many leaders see themselves as momentum/morale builders? Perhaps its too easy to get caught up in the details to rise above and see the big picture.
Thanks for consistently giving back to the community.
Ajay’s bio: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Interesting post and comments. This is definitely food for thought for all managers. I know when I was tasked with showing a newbie around on the first day that I would try to engage them in the everyday work life. I would introduce them to people that they would interface with most and engage them in the conversation especially if it was a problem resolution discussion.
I know when I was a newbie in a company that I wanted to get engaged the first day and not sit there filling out forms and being non productive.
When you are hired you are expected to hit the floor running. What better way than to get them engaged and provide feedback their first day.
As far as poor performers as a leader you need to dig deep and find out why. It may be something you can help with and get them motivated. If they do not turn around then they need to be replaced.
Life some other comments, yours adds focus to poor performers.
You made me think about systemic organizational reasons for poor performance. Many employees hit the ground running but run out of steam because of internal bureaucracy, office politics, lack of feedback, unleveraged skills, confusion regarding mission and vision, and the list goes on…
Thank you for stopping in.
Success to you,
Good work on pointing out what may seem insignificant to some bosses. The best bosses, most loved and respected ones are those that took to time off their busy schedule to give credit to the work of the support staff. These are the staff that will go the extra mile and two inches to make sure that things are done right just to please and be respected by their boss.
Again, Good work.
Isn’t it interesting and encouraging that we can make a big difference for someone by taking the time to do small things.
Success to you and thanks for the good word,
Dan, I think two things:
1) There is a parallel between this situation and many classrooms, in which the teacher is so relieved that the high achievers are “low maintenance” and do not cause problems/challenges, that they go unrecognized and their achievements go under-recognized. Just because they are internally motivated doesn’t mean they won’t thrive and enjoy the experience more with external praise/feedback.
2) For a new hire in a business situation, I think it is important to start early helping them understand how they in particular fit into the org’s overall mission/vision/values. I am not saying to disclose confidential or delicate information, but the most basic of things — “when you compose this summary of our stock, it is published in a venue seen by thousands – it is not just a “little blurb,” it is a representation of our organization that can start a ball rolling that results in ROI in the long run and a positive image for our organization at the very least.
Thanks for your comment. You’ve expanded the conversation to the educational world with a great illustration. Kudos.
I’m always delighted when you stop in.
Brilliant post Dan! I regularly host a “Welcome Day” with our new starters and for many of them it is their first day working for the company. One way I can always tell who is ‘driven to succeed’ and who isn’t is by the way they engage on the day and with the different presenters. If they are enthusiastic and ask a lot of good questions I would be 95% certain they are driven to do well for themselves and the organisation. Being an educational charity, hearing things like “I am here to make a difference” is always a good sign as well, much like the example at the beginning of your post 🙂
Thanks for the tips for getting the most out of these driven people. I always like to thank them for making the day more fun through showing enthusiasm, but will make sure I give them plenty of feedback throughout the day from now on and will try to affirm how much they have learnt during the day.
Great to see you again. Thank you for adding value by sharing your own perspective and insights. Personal illustrations help everyone see principles in action.
Isn’t it lovely that the new employee wanted to contribute? Or be seen to be contributing? Clearly you’ve made a good hiring choice!
The value of engaging employees and especially new employees is something which is not to be undervalued. During the first few days at work, new employees are somewhat maluable. I believe there’s a fine line between ‘showing them what to do’ and ‘letting them working it out for themselves’. In the same way that the new worker made a good impression on the company in the interview, so the company and management need to make a good impression on the new worker in the first few days of their employment.
Interesting point. If you let knew people work out their job on their own they my find better ways of doing it. They may also feel higher levels of ownership.
I’m sure you agree that you can’t let new people feel their way around established procedures. However, you’re giving food for thought that applies to components of work life that can be personalized.
Finding the parallels in new employment, classrooms and workshops bring an overall picture into focus. In all three instances there are the sponges, the prisoners and the vacationers. How to keep feeding the sponges, trying to convert the prisoners and shifting the vacationers into gear is the leadership dance. Zappo has taken a more extreme tact that if you are feeling like a prisoner or maybe even vacationer after the first month, they will pay you to leave.
There also is the data that indicates most new employees leave a job in the first couple of years because they are not getting the support they need and at a healthy expense to the company, given training, recruiting and new training costs.
While there are other rationales and variations related to new employees (trial by fire, eating their young, etc.), it seems that truly ‘engaging’ the new recruit early on with repeated (intermittent?) support as enthusiasm is on the rise may be a positive, self-perpetuating experience that keeps high performers shifting into higher gears from the start.
It is strange that most organizations have multiple days of initial orientation as the rote pieces of the company that everyone needs to know which, if not presented well can stifle the strongest enthusiasm pretty quickly. Far too often organizations drone into the minutia of policies, processes and procedures without providing context or real world application. Is there an opportunity here to do this piece differently?
Love your #4 point Dan, if you create that correction/learning culture is the norm, you have set a very healthy environment in gear.
Thanks for your insights.
I’m particularly interested in the power of keeping orientations in a real world context that explains the big picture. You can’t underestimate the power of showing people the value of their contribution.
On the other hand, your comment makes me think about the futility many feel at performing tasks without context. They feel their efforts are meaningless. What else can they do but flee when an opportunity emerges.
Doc’s bio: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Excellent post! Asking for feedback on my feedback is something that I need to add to my routine. I hadn’t thought of that before.
If you don’t mind, here’s a post of a true story where I was smacked in the face with the power of affirmation:
Thanks for the good word. It’s great to see there is something here that adds value to you.
Thanks for leaving your link. I’ve read and enjoyed your post.
I learned the power of real motivation by accident. Oddly enough – through sports – in contrast to my previous response about sports.
I can say this, passionate, positive reinforcement is a very, VERY real and powerful motivating force that can instantly transform losers into winners.
I’ve seen it firsthand.
My story is here: http://bit.ly/9Q7XEk
As a corporate “shrink” I came away from reading your excellent post with one thought, mostly as a result of my past work week’s events. We must be careful to be aware of what needs all of our employees – those who are “high achievers” and those who are “drifters” – are really seeking to fill through their jobs. Any employee who seeks to fill unmet needs chiefly through their job performance – either “good” or “bad” – is in great danger of becoming burned out. If we’re interested in seeking the best for those whom we employ, we’re careful not to feed unhealthy behavior of any kind. God bless those co-dependent employees that we reward and hold in high esteem. Most of them are dying inside, and we’re unwittingly adding fuel to the fire. If we practice caring, honest, relational leadership, the benefit is to our employees, ourselves, and our companies.