By Alex Damico – CIMGlobal MD – USA & Canada
Every company has turnover. It’s the nature of employment and, in my opinion, it’s good for the health of the organization. Whether it’s because someone left for another opportunity or you’re replacing someone who wasn’t cutting it, new employees can contribute in a way that no one else in the organization can – but only for a while. Here’s what I mean.
New employees have the ability to see the organization with unbiased eyes. They have no ownership of the products, programs, services, procedures, rules, policies or practices of the company. They weren’t there when any of this stuff was initiated. Said another way, they are not a part of the machine – yet. It is the perfect opportunity to question things because, in time, they will be assimilated. Yes, I just made a Star Trek reference.
It’s only natural, we’re pack animals and we want to belong, which often means accepting and mimicking the way the rest of the pack behaves. However, these new employees typically don’t realize the special opportunity they have. They need to be told and encouraged. That’s why it is important to meet with them early on and make it clear that they have a unique opportunity to contribute. Encourage them to observe everything and feel free to ask questions like:
Why do we do that?
Why do we do it that way?
These questions can force us to examine things that have become routine. It should be noted that you need front line managers to be open to this kind of behavior from new people. Most of the time, there will be a perfectly valid answer to these questions and the new employee will gain some important insight into the workings of the organization. Occasionally, and hopefully not too often, there won’t be any good answer beyond “because we’ve always done it that way” or, “I really don’t know”. That’s where the opportunities are!
I’m not suggesting this type of critical questioning can’t come from other parts of the organization, I am however suggesting that these “fresh eyes” are an often-underappreciated resource. Here are 3 steps that you can proactively take to make this work.
- Create a culture in the organization that supports this type of thinking.
- Communicate this unique opportunity to every new employee, if not on the first day, before the first week, is out.
- Personally, follow up with new employees (they won’t necessarily believe you mean it)
Don’t waste this opportunity! They’re only “new” for so long before they join the collective.