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6 Ways to Blend New Employees in Better

by May 22, 2012, 6:57 am ET

The integration of new talent, whether promoted from within or hired from outside the organization, represents a critical career inflection point for the new employee. Too often this process is overlooked in small businesses or simplified in larger organizations through a quick orientation or onboarding process.

This leaves people to fend for themselves and attempt to adjust to their new organization and role essentially on their own. It will negatively influence their productivity and personal experience. It will lower your new employees’ perception about your company, and ultimately your top talent will leave. They will leave because they have options. Employees want to feel important, and they want to feel that they have been given a good opportunity to integrate into their new organization.

As the recruiter, your job is to find high-potential talent. You seek candidates who are well suited to your organization both in qualification and fit. People with a high potential for talent have a lot of opportunities, as clearly seen with technical and clinical people, making the race and “fight” for these employees especially challenging. What your company offers in terms of integration, both into the position and into the company, can be, if done correctly, a competitive advantage.

We define talent integration as the process and practice of blending (integrating) new hires into the organization. (It also includes the process and practice for integrating newly promoted managers and executives into their new role.)

What Distinguishes Onboarding from Talent Integration

Onboarding, by definition, is intended to help new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective members of your organization. Tactics commonly used include formal meetings, lectures, videos, print materials, or computer-based orientations to introduce newcomers to their new jobs in new organizations. Yet, what we see is that these processes often default to a more mechanical and routine approach (checklist style) than to a true process of personal and social integration with a developmental approach.

The key purpose of talent integration is to reduce the time for those new to their roles to become productive contributors (i.e., shorten the new job learning curve) and to swiftly anchor them into the organization through establishing strong relationships, support, and loyalty. Clearly, this practice helps retain employees, in addition to serving as a way to attract talent to your organization.

What’s Involved?

Talent integration involves a more formal, developmentally focused transition plan to help the new employee integrate into the organization — usually covering at least the first 90 to 180 days and in addition to standard onboarding tactics named above, it includes four core elements:

  1. A purposeful discussion between the new staff and their immediate supervisor within the first few days of hire to define clear expectations regarding job performance and key expected results, and to discuss how best to work with each other.
  2. Internal mentorship for the new employee to help them understand the organizational culture and “how work gets done around here.”
  3. Coaching for new managers, best done with an external/neutral executive/performance coach, to support the transition, especially if new skills are needed (i.e., technical/clinical person being promoted to a manager).
  4. Regular feedback meetings, monthly at a minimum, focusing on what is going well, where the person is challenged, what their ideas are, what they could use for help, etc. These discussions are dialogues and iterative in nature, verses a monologue from the boss.

6 Ways Recruiters Can Lead the Talent Integration Initiative

1. Before you start to search and screen candidates, make sure the hiring manager (or executive or HR manager) have accurately assessed and planned the following.

  • What does the job require, and what really needs to be done (vs. what is stated on an outdated job description)?
  • What skills, behaviors, and attitudes are required to achieve those requirements for success, now?
  • What role adaptation is anticipated for the future?

2. Use behaviorally-based interview questions that probe the candidates’ experience history, decisions made, and accomplishments achieved.

3. Include culture-based questions to help determine their values and motivators, and compare them to your organizational values. A key question to use is: Tell me about your ideal company culture. Do this before you talk about your company’s culture.

4. Include a scenario-based problem for the candidate to resolve and report on.

5. Share with the candidates your organization’s talent integration process and comments and stories from staff who have experienced its value. Talk about success rates in hiring and keeping high potential talent, demonstrating a work place others will want to join.

6. Consider having top candidates complete a personality-based job performance indicator that measures their potential for success in different business environments and roles. (Though such an assessment should never be used as the sole criterion for selection, as part of a selection set, it can be a valuable tool to avoid hiring the wrong candidate for the job.) This can also be used as a tool to support and coach the new employee in areas that need to be addressed to promote a faster and more effective integration.

What if your organization does not yet have a talent integration process? Start by looking at what you do have in place. Make a recommendation to your boss or to management about what is missing, why it’s important to consider, and the value it can offer in attracting and retaining top talent.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Riz Ali

    Whilst I believe that integrating a new hire into your company is critical, I don’t think stating Talent Integration as something new and trying to differentiate this from the Onboarding process is correct. By implying this I think you are diluting the core challenges that organisations face with embedding new joiners in to the business and comes across as a lazy article.

    In my opinion one of the challenges is how you actually define onboarding, when does it actually start/finish, what is involved, who owns and leads it? Individuals in organisations often make the mistake of thinking that this is either a one off event or something done by HR etc., therefore how do you ensure that the various stakeholders [that play some part during the onboarding process] are clear on their roles and responsibilities? This complexity is only extended for companies that are large, diverse and geographically spread.

    Refining an organisations Onboarding strategy to create a blended model that includes the more “traditional” approaches coupled with some of the tactics highlighted in your article is perhaps one of things that can be done but this only starts to scratch the surface.

    I would suggest that if you understand the above then you can only then start to evaluate the various Onboarding approaches and whether they are actually increasing new hire productivity or reducing the learning the curve…

  • http://kubicalaforestconsulting.com Sara LaForest

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We agree with your comment, “one of the challenges is how you actually define onboarding, when does it actually start/finish, what is involved, who owns and leads it?”. What we have often seen, however, is that it is defined more as an orientation, that HR owns, and when it starts and finishes depends on a wide variety of circumstances. We do not believe an orientation process (regardless of the name it’s called) addresses how best to integrate talent into the organization. As we mentioned, onboarding in it broadest definition includes many of the basic elements of talent integration. What seems to have happened with the term, onboarding, is that it is going the way of the term re-engineering. The original concept of re-engineering made sense, but it morphed into what has become known as a euphemism for downsizing. In our experience, onboarding has become a euphemism for orientation. Hiring and retaining top talent is a critical challenge for many growing companies. In fact the inability to hire and retain top talent is holding back growth in some of these companies. We are calling out the importance, as a more longitudinal and holistic process, of better integrating talent within the organization for not only increasing new hire productivity, but also for quickly engaging and retaining high potential talent.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Tony and Sara. Retention of valued employees is a simple process: you offer them a generous multi-year, guaranteed-raise, no-discharge-without-cause employment contract. You should expect a strong employee to show the same commitment to your organization that you show to them, i.e., keeping one eye on their back to make sure they aren’t getting stabbed, and the other eye on the way out.

    -kh

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