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Quick Quits

Question: I recently hired someone who left within the first quarter. He never gave this organization (or me) a chance. I never even knew he was unhappy. It makes me angry. We spent good money recruiting him and I invested time training him. How do I prevent this next time? Answer: You (the manager) and your recruiter (and others who sat in on the interviews and checked references) thought the fit was right. But something changed, or something didn’t happen!

Question: I recently hired someone who left within the first quarter. He never gave this organization (or me) a chance. I never even knew he was unhappy. It makes me angry. We spent good money recruiting him and I invested time training him. How do I prevent this next time?

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Answer: You (the manager) and your recruiter (and others who sat in on the interviews and checked references) thought the fit was right. But something changed, or something didn’t happen!

Many quick quits can be prevented. There is a direct correlation between that shortened tenure and actions you take. (Yup, sorry, you again.)

Most new hires come into an organization excited about their new adventure and filled with energy and potential. Too many managers admit that they leave the “get to know you” stuff to their organization’s orientation program. Yes, they meet with their new hires, introduce them around, and then, well, the connection seems to die. You can’t let that happen.

One of us met with a group of new recruits in a very well-respected “destination” high-tech organization, one that hired those smart, savvy, innovative, Gen Y’s. The recruiting was easy. The stay factor was difficult.

One new recruit spoke for all of them: “I think they thought that because I was at the top of my class, or a high-potential in my previous organization, I could learn the ropes easily in this new place. The truth was, I couldn’t. It was harder than I thought to break in. After the orientation period I was left totally on my own.”

So they’re left on their own. What can go wrong? They can have a major disconnect, that’s what. They can disconnect with:

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  • you or their co-workers
  • the job itself
  • the organization (work environment, norms or values)

You can prevent all three types of disconnects by taking a few preventive steps. You’ll notice that each step requires chatting with that new employee often, asking powerful questions and providing support in every way you can.

Connect to You and to Co-workers
There is no better way to predict retention and engagement than to assess the links that new hires establish with their manager and colleagues. Don’t assume they want to go to lunch with the team every day, but don’t assume they want to eat alone. Find out what works best for them, but be certain they begin to connect (in their own way) with you and their colleagues. In your early, ongoing conversations you might ask:

  • How are you getting along with your other team members? Are there introductions to other colleagues you’d like me to make?
  • So far, what leads you to believe that you’ve made the right choice in accepting this job? Is there anything that might lead you to question your choice?
  • What will it take to keep your energy? What do you need to stay interested and involved in the team?
  • What do you need me to do more of, less of? How can I support you as you get acclimated?

Connect to the Job
They joined your organization because you offered work they love to do. Are they doing it? Or is there a disconnect? Find out if the job measures up to what you promised. If it doesn’t, find ways to close the gap. Ask questions like these to be sure your new talent is doing the work they love:

  • How does the job measure up to what we promised so far? Where are we on or off? How might we course correct?
  • What other interests would you like to explore, either now or over time?
  • What do you find most challenging about the job? What is not challenging enough about it?
  • How can I help you fine tune this job over time?

Connect to the Organization (environment, norms, values)
Your new recruits may or may not have carefully evaluated your organization before they committed. In fact, it’s tough to do during the interview process. The job sounded great, you seemed like a good manager, and the people were nice. Now they’re on board. No one told them you all work 60-hour weeks. You forgot to mention how competitive this place is and that there’s been a lot of turmoil around here lately. One month into the job, they’re wondering who or what they joined. Are their values and yours compatible? Early on, ask questions like these:

  • What have you learned about our organization that surprises you (either good, or not so good)?
  • How does the work pace and schedule work for you? Is there anything we need to adjust?
  • How is our organization the same or different from your last employer? What do you miss most? Least?
  • How can I help you get more of what you want from this workplace? We want you to be happy here!

Yes, all this conversation and connecting requires time and energy on your part. But think about the goal: preventing a quick quit.

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