You’re heartbroken! You just didn’t see it coming. You thought things were going so well, but now it’s over, and you’re gutted. You keep asking yourself “where did I go wrong?”, and “what could I have done differently”. And slowly it dawns on you. “I treated them the same as everyone else, and now I’m back to where I started”.

It reads like the love of your life has walked out on you. And whilst there was never any “romance”, professionally the dalliance is over. Your new hire has resigned. Perhaps you had an inkling that things weren’t working out as well as you hoped? But how were you to know? You were diligent… you sat through what felt like a lifetime of interviews? You sought buy in from your stakeholders before making an offer. You tested capability, checked references and perhaps even gained insight into their psyche. You thought they were a “keeper”! But less than two months into their tenure they’ve quit- walking out of your life through a cloud of unspecific rationale, resentment, and disappointment. “Where did I go wrong”?

You’re not alone. Shockingly 40% of new hires voluntarily leave a new post within 6 months of commencing in role. Even more horrifying is that further 16% leave within the first 12 months. Terrifyingly that means despite wooing the perfect candidate, being on your best form, and selling in your business and opportunities to eager applicants, the odds of your hard work paying off in the longer term for you, your team, and the business, is 4/10. The cost of this is significant. Both financial and cultural your business haemorrhages benefit through the impact on your people costs, team engagement, the lost potential income earned through your ex-employees value to the business, and your own contribution during their on-boarding…

… Your contribution during their on-boarding. Did you really do enough to prevent this from happening? It’s not like you did anything differently. You managed your new hire in the same way you did every other member of the team. And then it dawns on you! You managed your new hire in the same way you did every other member of the team… and in doing so you let them down because they needed more.

Commonly even the most accomplished managers will make the same mistake of not flexing their management style to most appropriately on-board new hires. It’s an easy trap to fall into- you’ve put candidates through their paces during the recruitment process and technically and culturally they’re the right fit for your business. However, their technical knowledge is only one of many knowledge dimensions that your new hire needs to possess to successfully on-board and integrate in your organisation. A big picture view of your businesses operating philosophies and approach, to team ways of working, and of course your expectations and preferred management style, are all gaps that need to be closed quickly and harmoniously to best equip your new hire for success in their new role. And yet the data shows that managers are underestimating the depth of the knowledge gap that new hires bring to an organisation, and the managers role in filling this quickly.

In considering your management approach when on-boarding new members to your team, the situational leadership model provides a neat framework for bringing your recruit up to speed. The framework, developed by Dr Paul Hersey in the 1960’s, still endures through its descriptions of the recommended amount of direction and guidance a leader should give to “followers” based on situational needs.

The framework invites leaders to demonstrate and leverage four core and critical leadership competencies:
Diagnose: “Understand the situation they are trying to influence”
Adapt: “Adjust their behaviour in response to the contingences of the situation”
Communicate: “Interact with others in a manner they can understand and accept”
Advance: “Manage the movement”

Successful leaders will apply this mix of competencies to varying degrees depending on the situational need, and the capabilities of the individual. (For this purpose we define capability as knowledge, skills, experience and behaviour.) The model further describes this by labelling the leadership style, delivered via these competences, mix across 4 quadrants:

• S1 Directing (high directive and low supportive behaviour)
• S2 Coaching (high directive and high supportive behaviour)
• S3 Supporting (high supportive and low directive behaviour)
• S4 Delegating (low supportive and low directive behaviour)

Practising this model against the context of on-boarding, the model invites leaders to consider and manage in a way that is going to:
• Clearly outline expectations and the way things should be done
• Help the individual understand what success looks like in the short and longer term
• Guide the individual in the ways of the company culture, political landscape and organisational quirks
• Coach the individual on team dynamics and ways of working

Of course, you’ve employed your new hire based on their technical prowess, ability to assimilate into your company, and potential to succeed in your business. You’ll be looking for them to contribute as quickly as possible, to begin to add value and impress in the short term. However, many managers understandably put the emphasis on this, missing the opportunity to on-board and guide the recruit in an efficient way, and one that provides a relevant and enduring growth of knowledge and business specific skills.

Successful managers will take their time to be conscientious in defining their new hires on-boarding, creating a map that recognises the high touch management that a new hire needs, and leveraging the 70/20/10 approach to learning and development. Defined in the 1980’s out of the still thought leading Centre for Creative Leadership, the model explains that effective vocational development happens when learners obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

So how does this look when set against the context of on-boarding? Starting with a schedule of sorts, often called an “induction plan”, the manager will thoughtfully map a programme of interactions and activities, set against a backdrop of the individual’s goals or objectives, and with some insight into the individuals learning needs- in this case the gap in their current capabilities and the required organisational knowledge.

Job Related Experiences
• Work assignments and task participation
• Shadowing and job swaps
• Observing teams and meetings
• Other site and customer visits

• Meetings with colleagues, stakeholders, suppliers and customers
• Buddying/ Mentoring
• Coaching Relationships
• Feedback from the Manager

Educational Events
• Company induction
• Online learning modules
• Conferences and seminars
• Relevant industry press and references

Regardless of the type of development activity a learning savvy manager will take the time to top and tail each activity, discussing with the individual its purpose, what the individual should expect, their expectations of the individual have participated, and after completion, what was learned and what still needs to be developed. This short conversation is powerful in demonstrating your engagement in the activity, in establishing its relevant building a bridge to further activity, and most importantly, ensuring the individual is finding their feet and continues to remain ENGAGED.

And like a traditional romance, engagement is the hallmark of success in this story. With its proven link to performance and achievement your contribution is critical to this love story, and the early days set the scene for what will hopefully be a deep and meaningful relationship. Don’t forget, keepers don’t come along every day.

Perhaps you are planning to onboard new employees into your business? Or want to get the best out of your current team? We’d love to share with you some of our experience, or answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to contact the Learning Cog team for more information and support.