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Archive for July 10th, 2008

Turnover Reflects Your Onramping Program

When you look at your employee turnover are you content or confounded?  If confounded, what have you done to improve it?  You may want to start by reviewing your onramping program. had an interesting article on this subject and provided the following findings:

  • 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment. (The Wynhurst Group)
  • 46 percent of rookies wash out in their first 18 months. (Leadership IQ)
  • Companies that leave onboarding (ed. what we call onramping) to chance experience failure rates in excess of 50 percent when it comes to retaining new talent. (Egon Zehnder International, 2007)

More than a 50% failure rate?  Ouch!  I have seen firsthand the problems that arise from not having a defined onramping program.  The article makes a couple of great points; first, an employee will decide in the initial 3 weeks if they feel at home or not.  Second, 3 parties – HR professionals, hiring manager and the new employee – need to own up to making sure that an onramping program is in place and followed.  The author gives 3 specific areas that need to be addressed and how each party needs to handle these areas.

  1. Tell the truth about the job from the beginning
  2. Assure a Good “Fit”—Values and Interests
  3. Foster a Sense of Belonging and Connectedness

I recommend that you go read the article as it gives some great advice.  One point it makes for managers in regards to fit:

Help new hires learn the “culture”—the informal rules of the organization. Talk with new hires about the organization’s values. What counts for success?

How important is this?  Most employees who have been with the company for 6 months or more know all of the unwritten rules and they probably operate without even thinking about them.  A new employee has no clue unless they informed of these rules.  Without the knowledge, they will break some of these rules accidentally (and hopefully not spectaularly).

Let me illustrate with a personal example.  Several years ago I recevied a job offer and accepted the position with a new company after working for years at my previous employer.  After completing a background screening and going through a half-day orientation session, I showed up for my first actual day of work.  Without knowing it, I broke one of the unwritten rules.  The first meeting I attended was uncomfortable as I was not greeted by most of my new teammates.  I noticed a strange vibe.

After the meeting, I met with my new manager and was told by him that the owner of the company did not like facial hair and I would need to shave my goatee in order to keep my job.  Not the best time to be told of this one unwritten rule, but it actually put me a little at ease, because it explained why I was treated the way I was by my co-workers.  This rule would have been nice to know before showing up for my first day.

As a manager, make sure you lay the groundwork with your new employees.  Do not expect them to intuitively know all the rules of the office.  If they break an informal rule treat it as a training event, not a disciplinary action.  Invest the time and you will improve your odds of retaining your new hires.

Quality Of Questions

I had a sales candidate ask an excellent, subtle question yesterday – “What other positions is this company currently hiring?”  Again, the subtlety of this question provides a view into a company’s needs, growth and possible turnover.  It is an excellent question to ask in any interview.

The second part of this equation is for the hiring manager to appreciate the question.  What I mean is this – listen carefully to the questions being asked by the candidate.  We often watch hiring managers trip over themselves to answer a good question without appreciating the question itself.  Some times the hiring manager cannot even recall the questions asked in the interview.  This is problematic for successful sales hiring.

Someday I am going to capture every question asked by a candidate in the interview and put them in a document, in order, and then present them to the hiring manager.  The questions themselves and the sequence of questions is important for successful selling (read: qualifying).  This ability is observable in the interview process…if you are looking for it.  Don’t miss it.