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Getting a new employee off to a sound start.

My boss never told me how I was doing or complimented my work until I told him I was leaving. Then he said he was pleased with the work I had done. It was too little and too late to influence me to change my mind and stay.

Have you heard someone make a remark like this? With the shortage of qualified personnel increasing, the loss of a valued employee is not welcome news. Employees who have been with a company for only a short time and have skills in high demand may decide the company is not going to provide the type of job or growth opportunity they are looking for. Today, the younger employee is much less hesitant to change jobs when a company doesn't provide enough challenge or reward.

Bob Moe, Phd, vice president of research at a large pharmaceutical company, believes it is especially important to get a new employee off to a good start. "When a new employee joins a company, it is critical to provide the attention and direction that will get him or her off on the right foot. An employee can feel frustrated if there is too little work or direction, or overwhelmed if there is too much. It is a time of acclimation, learning, and change. Since it takes a lot of diligence to locate, interview, and hire personnel, it is especially disappointing and costly if one of them leaves.

" For example, " he explains, " there is a small number of scientific personnel we draw from to fill a job. Because of the scarcity of these specialists, the people who would be candidates for the job will probably remember that the job was advertised not too long ago and tend to shy away from it. "

What can companies do to increase the length of time new employees stay with a finn? And what should new employees look for in companies they are considering? One of the most important factors is the management of the company, especially the direct supervisor the employee works for.

The new supervisor plays a key role in making the employee's job more challenging and fulfilling and in making the employee feel appreciated. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist known for his theory on human motivation, identified fulfillment as the highest level of human need. Satisfying the need for fulfillment can help to retain that employee.

Managers can take the following twelve steps to get an employee off to a good start and maintain a high level of motivation:

* Define the employee's job clearly.

* Develop standards of performance.

* Determine training required.

* Provide time for training and reinforce it.

* Communicate effectively.

* Get to know the employee's strengths, needs, and goals.

* Involve employees in goal setting and decision making.

* Provide challenging work.

* Coach the employee.

* Provide ongoing feedback and quarterly reviews.

* Provide ongoing training.

* Develop a career plan.

In light of all the corporate downsizings, planning a career would seem a thing of the past. Bill Glennon, a senior vice president with Lee Hecht Harrison Inc., has worked extensively with individuals making career choices and companies downsizing their work forces.

According to Glennon, "Most employees still prefer to stay with one company rather than job hopping. In spite of a sense of lost loyalty on the part of companies, new employees believe they are not just there for a job but a career. The managers who succeed in the future will be those who work with their people to create the feeling that the company is interested in their careers.

"Supervisors can do that by working with the new employee to prepare a career development plan that matches the goals of the employee with the needs of the company. The plan must also be real and not just a formality.

Most managers agree that retaining valued employees and being more productive are important goals-and that managing effectively can do much to contribute to achieving those goals. What, then, gets in the way of making these efforts successful?

One reason is that while managers want to spend more time with new employees, they don't believe they have the time. Yet, the time devoted to supervising a new employee is time well invested. They may also be unfamiliar with the best way of getting a new employee off to a good start. That problem can be addressed through training.

Even if a company has vast assets, the key element that can distinguish it from its competitors in the long term is its employees. Harry Knudsen, former president of a half-billion dollar electronics manufacturing company, has a great deal of experience in running a large company and hiring and managing people. He believes that "employees are the difference between good and mediocre companies. "

Hiring the best people and being honest, open, and interested in them was his secret to getting the most productivity from his employees. "Giving the best initial impression of a company is important," he explains. "It can be done by something as simple as making sure there is a permanent desk for the employee. Sometimes only temporary space is available, or worse yet, the employee must find a place on his or her own. " Companies benefit enormously from retaining the new employee they worked so hard to find. The companies the most diligent with this effort will receive a handsome payoff from the initial investment in their new employees. The payoff comes in retaining employees longer and getting higher levels of productivity from them.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:DeSena, Jim
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1990
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