Countless studies have shown that each newly hired associate goes through several emotional phases during the new hire experience, and a few more during the course of the succeeding months following their first 90 days. Results vary but, generally, he or she will go through 3 phases: the Discovery Phase, Learning Phase and Development Phase.
New hires will constantly be rethinking the newly chosen career path within the Discovery Phase, which typically spans the first 2 months on the job. During this period, new associates question their tenure at the company. Their perception of their role and the company is easily swayed, either positively or negatively. During the Learning Phase, within the first three months of being hired, new hires typically feel instability and self-doubt. By the 6th month, the Development Phase, new associates become more comfortable and begin to see their future at the company.
As managers responsible for the onboarding and integration of new team members into our organization, it is critical that we pay attention to how our new associates are feeling, stay constantly engaged and understand generation gaps. The best way to retain your new associates (especially the high performing ones) is to carefully recognize the pulse of your new team member experience. Ask questions, check with their counterparts and observe performance.
Understanding the 3 phases of a new hire
- Set the right tone with onboarding: When the new team member arrives, he or she will carefully observe and either eagerly work themselves into, or talk themselves out of being part of your team. Newly hired team members tend to be highly sensitive about their new surroundings. The leadership or management team should promote an enticing culture, be accommodating and also provide clear expectations. Don’t forget to give the associate an extra warm welcome. We will only encourage them to doubt their decisions of joining the team if we fail to provide a warm atmosphere right from the beginning.
- Put your corporate culture on display: A new hire will carefully study whether the organization is the right fit for them. It is imperative that we create an atmosphere where we encourage an open door policy so that they feel comfortable and safe. Leaders must constantly connect with new team members and make every effort to recognize small milestones they may be achieving on a daily basis. Reassurance is critical during this stage and continues to be a factor for the succeeding months.
- Provide feedback: This is the stage where the leader, the team and the associate are all getting to learn more about each other. There will be differences and camaraderie formed amongst the group, and leaders need to recognize how each part of the puzzle will work, how everyone can contribute and how the team can work together effectively. Leaders need to consistently provide constructive and objective feedback because this will set precedence to a coaching type atmosphere. With this in mind, make sure that the performance is measureable and attainable, the instructions provided are clear and there is room for learning.
- Coaching: In this stage, a general understanding of a few mechanics within the team culture is developed. It becomes a source of inspiration when a new hire receives the proper coaching and he/she feels set up for success. Make sure to provide one-on-one feedback during this time. Effective dialogue stems from being objective and balancing any failure with deserved recognition.
- Promote inclusion: Nurture your team member by making them feel included by letting them sit in on a leadership meeting, highlighting a best practice which they excelled on, or asking them how they would resolve an issue or challenge. When the associate feels that they are a productive contributor, he or she will take more pride in their personal brand and feel valued.
- Make them feel safe: Employees need to feel secure about their jobs to perform effectively. They will ultimately be more productive and glide through departmental expectations without feeling the need to worry about job security. Once the associate feels safe, he or she is no longer in the Development Phase. From here, as a leader you can fine tune skills as the employee becomes a tenured member of your team.
Teresa joined The Service Companies in September 2016. As the Director of Training and Strategic Operations, she and her team are responsible for driving associate engagement and retention as The Service Companies becomes the employer of choice for hourly associates.