5 MORE Reasons Your New Hires Won’t Last

Furious George

Yesterday, we talked through five reasons your new hires won’t last. Continuing on in that vein today, here are five more reasons (we’ll number them 6 – 10, just to make it easier). Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be another bumpy ride.

6. Orientation and onboarding are largely reduced to a review of relevant policies and procedures before moving on to training on operational skills.

What’s missing? Culture. In an organization with a clear identity and culture, orientation and onboarding is just the next link in the chain, so to speak; and it’s here that new hires learn even more about this tribe of humans they’ve just joined. They’re given a closer look at “how we do things around here.” They should learn stories, and be introduced to symbols, traditions, and rituals (Pro tip: Omit any references to animal sacrifice at this point in orientation.). They should learn about the core values — what they mean, how they look in action, and what accountability around them looks like. And that’s just the beginning.

7. Training stinks for any number of reasons. 

This one almost deserves its own post, and maybe I’ll do that at some point. As a former HS educator, and as one involved in corporate training & development/organizational development for a good while now, I can tell you that there’s a lot of really great training out there. I can also tell you there’s a lot of pretty terrible training out there.

The far more complicated part is explaining why that’s the case. There are so many reasons and combinations of reasons that training can end up being less-than-amazing. (And before my non-training readers nod your heads in agreement too hard, not all — and probably not even most — of those reasons have to do with the training department. Many training issues can be traced back to larger organizational and/or systemic roots.)

For example — and this is only one of literally dozens — sometimes organizations make the mistake of starting from a timeframe. What I mean is that managers understandably feel shorthanded when they’re down a person, so naturally they want their new hire as soon as possible. Well, sometimes, somewhere, in some meeting, between two executives, they probably rather arbitrarily decided that, oh…say…two weeks sounded like a reasonable amount of time for new hire training. The problem is that that’s not even remotely close to how training and development is supposed to be designed. Believe it or not, the how-long-is-it-going-to-take part is near the end. And frankly, the presupposition that the new hire training model should be a nonstop, x-week, block of time is not one I’m willing to concede; but again, that’s for another post.

But sticking with this particular example, say a training team is given two weeks to train; and say that for whatever reason, they don’t feel able to push back and suggest a different methodology for determining learning objectives, timelines, and so on. In that scenario, they’re going to put together a two-week training curriculum, by gosh. And they’re going to train it. At the end of that two weeks, it may or may not (read: probably won’t) actually prepare new hires for what the managers on the other end are expecting them to be prepared for.

That’s just one example of how training issues can get a bit more complex than they appear at first glance. The bottom line, though, is that when a training program doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, people aren’t prepared for their jobs. And when people aren’t prepared for their jobs, they start to feel unprepared for their jobs (shocking, no?). And when they feel unprepared for their jobs, they begin to dread coming to those jobs. And when people dread coming to their jobs, eventually, if it doesn’t get better, they stop coming to those jobs so they can go work somewhere where they feel they’re given the tools to be successful.

8. They don’t get meaningful support after training.

From a developmental perspective, this is a ball that gets dropped an awful lot. When folks land in their branches or departments or teams, it’s not the time to take a hands-off approach. On the contrary, this is where the next link in their developmental chain should occur. Previous learning should be reinforced and applied to that context, and the groundwork should be put in place for continued growth and development. There should be coaching and mentoring that takes off from this point, and it should be planned coaching and mentoring that happens across the organization.

9. No one asks for their feedback.

How are you collecting feedback from folks during their first week? How about after two weeks? First month? Three months? Six months? You’d be amazed what you’ll learn by connecting with new hires at those intervals. You’ll be amazed how you’ll be able to adjust your processes from both a recruitment and training & development perspective based on what you learn over time from those conversations. Additionally, it means something to people when you ask what they think. It communicates to them that they matter.

10. The culture is terrible.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If they get there and people are negative, or their boss is a jerk, or performance standards are either non-existent or enforced arbitrarily, or teammates don’t seem to get along, or any number of things; they’re not going to want to stay. Why would they?

So what’s the bottom line? Here’s the scary part. As lengthy as these two posts were, there are still other reasons I edited out that can contribute to new hires jetting. However, these are some of the bigger ones, and should be a good place to start thinking through some things.

***On a different note, organizational culture and alignment is what I do, so if you’re interested in some formal help with any of these things, email me at matt@themojocompany.com. If you’re not ready for formal help, but would like to bounce ideas around, I’m game for that too. Same email address applies.

5 Reasons Your New Hires Won’t Last



They’re going to leave you.

I know. That’s a hard pill to swallow after all the time and money you’ve spent on marketing, recruitment, job fairs, and pens. (Yes, pens. Have you ever seen how many gazillions of branded pens are floating around at a job fair? It’s insane.)

But even after that, your new hires are going to leave you. (Yes, even after the pens.)

Most of us get a similar sinking feeling in our stomach when we think too much about that. It gives each of us headaches for any number and combination of reasons, but suffice it to say that turnover — especially so soon after folks start — takes a toll on teams, leaders, and organizations.

Often, organizations, managers, and/or executives are tempted to throw their collective hands up when folks leave the organization — especially when it’s within those folks’ first six months — and tell themselves that’s just par for the course.

Or — and HR folks, don’t quit reading after this paragraph — managers and execs might mutter something under their breath about HR/recruitment doing a less-than-stellar job getting “the right people” for the organization. And while it’s true that there isn’t a recruiter alive who’s not made a bad hire (I’ve worked in HR and recruitment for years myself before now seeing and working in it as part of the larger “culture” framework), I think it’s almost always far more complicated than that. (Speaking of bad hires, remind me to tell you about the time I was recruiting for a bilingual position and did a great job filling it. Unfortunately, it was with someone who spoke a different second language from the one for which I was supposed to have recruited. Awkward.)

So with those things said, what are some of the reasons organizations lose folks within those first six months?

1. Your organization’s identity and culture haven’t been clearly defined.

You may have core values in place, but they’re not meaningful behavioral or distinguishing values that help you build an identity and differentiate yourself from other organizations. Further, without that identity, people don’t know what they’re getting into when they apply. A unique and clear organizational identity does two things, both of which are great as it relates to hiring: 1) It attracts people who are interested in working for an organization with those values and with that environment, and 2) it discourages people from applying who aren’t attracted to those particular values and that sort of environment. In other words, it helps you with what we’ll discuss next: getting “the right people” who are “the right fit.”

2. No one can actually describe with any specificity what “the right people” look like.

Now of course, I’m not talking about physical characteristics here. What I mean, though, is that often recruiters are given only the vagaries written in the job description to go on. The problem with that is that even if all the technical and operational skills and experience are described flawlessly by the hiring manager for the job description (and that’s not a given), that still makes it only somewhat more likely that you’ll get someone who has the technical skills to do the job.

3. Now, add to that the fact that when most managers say “the right people” or “the right fit,” they’re not usually referring to technical skills, and we’ve got ourselves a whole separate problem.

You see, often, when managers say something about not getting “the right people,” or someone “not being the right fit,” they’re making a reference to culture compatibility without really realizing it. And it’s not a bad thing, mind you, that they see and feel that. They’re probably right. The problem is that no one has actually defined what “the right people” and “the right fit” are beyond nebulous references to attitude or something along those lines. This, of course, is where a clearly articulated culture, complete with core values that have been integrated into the recruitment process and employment brand, is so crucial.

4. The job description doesn’t reflect the actual job.

Quick disclaimer: We all know that the reality of a job always includes things not delineated within a job description. Please don’t misread this and think I’m advocating for a Game-of-Thrones-book-length job description containing every conceivable thing that a team member could end up doing. But how cool would it be if you could get Peter Dinklage to show up at a job fair for you?

What’s important here is that the job description that gets put out there gives an accurate picture of what life’s going to be like for the person that ultimately gets the gig. Obviously, candidates will get a better picture as they go through the interview process, but an accurate job description is the first step.

*4.5 The job description doesn’t reflect the culture and identity of the organization. I’m sneaking this one in. Call it a bonus. But while we’re on the subject of job descriptions, most of them are just dreadful. They should reflect your organization’s culture and brand. If your organization’s culture is formal and stuffy, then the job description should read that way. (And most do.) But if your organization’s culture is, say, creative; then your job descriptions — yes, even your job descriptions — should reflect that creative vibe.

5. Applicants/candidates experience different and often contradictory micro-cultures throughout the hiring process and then again when they get to their team.

Think back to some of the jobs you’ve had, and more specifically, think about the process you went through and the people you interacted with throughout that process.

Typically, the first human applicants speak to is the recruiter. Well, a recruiter is generally going to be pretty good with people. They’re usually sociable, outgoing, cheerful, polite, and so on. Good recruiters are good connectors, and they know how to sell applicants on their organizations. After talking with a good recruiter, applicants will usually have a pretty rosy picture of an organization.

Then, and this will vary of course, there might be an interview with the hiring manager. Say, for example, we’re talking about a credit union (I love credit unions). So in that case, it would most likely be the branch manager sitting down for the interview. That interview will often have a different feel (especially without a well-defined culture, and a recruitment and interview process that’s been aligned with that culture). But, depending how much the manager likes the candidates, that interview can still have a very positive, we-want-you-to-come-here feel to it.

Assume for a moment that all goes well and our imaginary candidates get hired. Following that, they’re exposed to the next batch of people: the trainers. And again, depending how well-defined your culture is, and based on how integrated and operationalized it is, to our new hires, the training group can feel like yet another separate group with its own feel.

And then…this new hires land in their department. They look around, and it feels nothing like what they recall the recruiter describing during that initial conversation. It’s almost like our new hire got four different impressions of what the company was actually like based on the four different “micro-cultures” they were exposed to. That’s the sort of disconnect that can make someone bolt, especially if they liked what they heard at first (or second, or third). Since the spot they’ve landed is so different from that initial depiction, now they’re left not liking the reality of where they’ve landed.

But wait! There’s more! (You’ll just have to imagine me using my very best infomercial voice.) Tomorrow’s post will have five more reasons your new hires are going to bolt. See you then.

***On a different note, organizational culture, alignment, and integration is what I do, so if you’re interested in some formal help with any of these things, email me at matt@themojocompany.com. If you’re not ready for formal help, but would like to bounce ideas around, I’m game for that too. Same email address applies.


#Leadership and the Emotionally Battered Employee



Sometimes we inherit them. Perhaps they’ve been hurt by other people within the organization. It may have been their manager, executive, or even the CEO. It may have been you. But there they are, sitting in front of you, obviously hurting, maybe even angry.

So what do you do? How do you handle it in that moment?

Well, the servant leadership perspective is going to be a little different from a traditional management approach in that a traditional management approach is likely going to be more geared toward figuring out the fastest and easiest way to get that employee back to functioning as quickly and efficiently as possible. Translation (from a traditional boss): How the heck can I get this emotional mess of an employee out of my office and back out there doing their job as soon as possible? Isn’t this what they should be paying a therapist for? 

Servant leadership, however, views employees as humans, and views humans holistically. Organizations are communities of humans, and as such, there are going to be times where healing is necessary. As leaders, it’s incumbent upon us to serve our teams by helping them along this journey.

Here are some suggestions. These aren’t necessarily in any sort of order; they’re more just random thoughts that I’m hopeful will help you think through your own personalized strategies for serving your teams when they’re hurting.

Listen. A lot. Resist the urge to begin offering feedback right away. It’s a normal, human, and well-intentioned thing to do; but interrupting to do it may prematurely cut off their expression of pain and emotion. It’s important for them to get that out, and it’s important for you to listen sincerely and deeply to them as they do.

Listen not only to what they’re saying, but also to what they’re not saying. Often just as telling as what folks are saying is what they’re not saying. Listen for those things. Make mental notes, and ask appropriate follow-up questions when the time is right.

Listen for and note themes. (Noticing a trend yet?) As they’re expressing their pain, you’ll often see that it’s not just one thing or event that’s taken place. It’s more likely been a series of things that have happened. Listen carefully, and you may begin to notice certain trends, or themes, or even people, that run throughout their narrative that may have at first seemed isolated or disconnected if you weren’t paying attention. This can provide helpful insight into the sorts of things that have a negative emotional and/or psychological impact on your teammate.

Don’t correct them at this point. Remember, at this point, you’re listening to their perceptions of events and attitudes and people and so on. They’re hurt and emotional, and like most of us, they may exaggerate here and there in the heat of the moment. There will come a time when you’ll want to come alongside them and help them untangle the difference between perceived reality and actual reality, but the immediate aftermath of the event and/or pain is likely not the time for that.

Carefully, gently, attempt to get to the underlying reason for the pain. Sometimes — though not always — the pain you’re seeing and the event/person being discussed are not the core cause of the pain. They may be the most recent irritant of a pre-existing hurt, if that makes sense. So listen carefully, and when the time is right, ask some well-crafted follow-up questions to determine the root cause.

Control your emotions. To the best of your ability, control your emotions. This can be quite difficult, especially since you also want to empathize, but your calmness can help de-escalate the situation and help your teammate think clearly and feel safe enough to speak to the pain.

Resist the temptation to “fix them.” You don’t fix people. But even if you could fix people, that’s not the point initially. This can be especially difficult for certain personality types that are more prone to want to immediately give them a bullet point list of action items and then call it good. That will just lead to mutual frustration; as they’ll feel dehumanized and patronized, and you’ll feel frustrated because your methods aren’t producing the results you wanted.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know what to say. It’s not as important that you’re a psychology expert as it is that you’re present, listening, and sincerely care. So be real and vulnerable, even in moments like these; and if you don’t know what to say, say that.

Commend them for their vulnerability. As leaders, we’re to lead the way in demonstrating vulnerability, and we’re to be creating a context within which vulnerability is applauded, not punished. So it’s important in situations like this to commend them for being human and vulnerable in front of you. They’re likely feeling all kinds of embarrassed and vulnerable; but you commending them for their courage can help them feel a bit safer in this moment, and can set the stage for continued honest dialogue down the road, be it about the current situations or something entirely unrelated.

Always be prepared to refer them to appropriate employee assistance programs. The reason I say to always be prepared to do this is because if you’re not prepared to do it, you probably won’t do it because it can be a pretty awkward thing to say if you’re just stumbling through it on the fly.

When the time is right, begin shifting the conversation to how you can collaborate with them to think through ways they can move forward in a healthy manner. This will look different from person to person and situation to situation, but it’s important that there be some forward momentum following the expression of pain and/or frustration. It doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering; it can be (and probably should be) a baby step. But it needs to be something. Further still, it needs to be something they can own. Most of the time, pain is the result of a situation in which the person harmed was not in control. The forward momentum, coupled with their control of that forward momentum, is a very helpful and healthy dynamic.

There’s obviously much, much more we could talk about here; and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Like I mentioned at the top, this is more to get you thinking through how you want to approach these situations when you encounter them. My hope is that if you think these things through, you’ll be more inclined to enter into these scenarios eager to serve your hurting teammate rather than just trying to figure out how to get them back in action as soon as possible.

All that said, what suggestions would you add? What sorts of things have you seen work? Have you been hurt before? If so, what did a leader do to help? Or, if you’ve been dealing with a teammate who’s struggling, what sorts of things did you do that seemed to be most helpful to them?