On April 21, I spoke on the topic of employee engagement. Below is the slide deck from the presentation:
Building A Winning Business — Section: Managing
After a reasonable period of adjustment, don’t be afraid to push employees beyond their professional comfort zone. Motivated employees want to build their skills by working with high-profile companies on challenging assignments.
- Build a specific learning goal into every employee’s performance plan at the beginning of each year. At Intertech, everyone has three to five goals that tie in with the company’s overall goal; one of those goals explicitly relates to learning.
- At Intertech we also encourage less-experienced employees to sign up for special projects that can help them develop skills while creating something we can use internally. In addition to building their skill set, they earn a financial bonus for doing these projects. Most important, our employees become more skilled—but not at the expense of our clients.
Tom’s Takeaway: “Everyone needs to learn new skills to stay motivated. Find ways for all your team members to develop professionally and give them incentives, such as performance goals and even financial bonuses, to embrace these opportunities.”
- These are informal opportunities to ask how things are going and whether the employee has clear direction on what he should be doing. We also ask whether he needs any tools or training and, most important, whether there is anything else we should be aware of or anything he would like to discuss.
- Check-ins provide a one-on-one opportunity for employees to share thoughts and concerns. They also continue to communicate to employees that they’re important and you want them to succeed.
Tom’s Takeaway: “Regular, informal check-ins with new employees let them know you are committed to their success. They also allow you to fix early problems before they fester into major issues.”
Download Available — D8: www.Intertech.com/Winning-Business
Thoughts Since the Book
- Most check-ins result in a “all things are well” conversation. While it may seem like overkill, the purpose of the check-ins is for those few occasions where all is not well and this dedicated, focused one-on-one provides an opportunity to fix an issue and keep an employee
As anyone who has ever had an awkward first date knows, first impressions matter. Likewise, the amount of effort you put into effectively bringing someone new into your organization plays a significant role in whether or not he becomes a long-term employee.
- At Intertech, we send a floral arrangement to a new employee’s home upon acceptance of our offer, with a note of welcome. The week before he starts, we send an e-mail explaining what to expect the first week
- Beyond the obvious orientation activities—lunch, HR forms, and meeting other employees—set the tone quickly by telling the new person about your company’s history, particularly through anecdotes and personal observations. This can be more challenging at large and long-established corporations, but even in those organizations mentors can tell new employees about their own relevant work experiences to make the culture come alive.
- At Intertech, instead of a PowerPoint deck that talks about our history, I take the new hire around town to see the company’s milestones (such as the 800-square-foot house where our firm was hatched in my early 20s). Before or after our driving history tour, I talk about the company’s strategic plan, where we’re headed, our communications guidelines, and, most important, how the employee fits into our future.
Tom’s Takeaway: “You only get one chance to make a first impression. Take the time and care to communicate with new employees, letting them know you’re confident that they quickly will become valued members of your team.”
Download Available — D7: www.Intertech.com/Winning-Business
Thoughts since the Book
- For some strategic hires, I’ve created an onboarding document that outlines our org chart, a breakdown of their team, key meetings, core responsibilities, logins/access to sites and systems. This document was sent prior to the first day and made for a rapid transition.
When negotiating an offer, clarity and a deadline are essential. In negotiating, the person with the least amount of interest has the most power. When you’ve presented your offer, don’t hound the candidate. It makes you seem desperate. If the candidate starts making hefty demands, think hard about whether this person will fit in your organization over the long term. If you agree to bonuses and other perks, make sure the person understands what you expect in return.
- If you require employees to sign a non-compete agreement, remember that you must disclose that at the same time you make the offer. Conversely, if you decide to pass on a candidate, succinctly thank the person for his time and frame the rejection letter correctly by stating, “At this time, given our interview process, we are choosing to proceed with other candidates.” This makes the rejection clean and gives the candidate no opening to try to change your mind.
- Finally, put an expiration date on the offer. Give the candidate a reasonable amount of time to make a decision, but for everyone’s sake, provide a definite end date on the offer consideration period.
Tom’s Takeaway: “Once you’ve presented a fair offer with a clear deadline attached, give the candidate a reasonable amount of time to make the decision.”
Thoughts Since the Book:
- Like a business deal or personal purchase, with a high-end candidate, know your “walk away number”