In my last blog post, I talked about integration – the process by which we get new hires started and assimilated – and explained why this process is so critical to success. In this post, I’ll share some tips on how to get started in building a world-class integration program in your own company.
Start small and be consistent
One mistake I frequently see is a company starting out too ambitiously. They design a fabulous integration program, but it’s too much effort and requires too many resources and so after a few times, they start short-changing it, or sometimes even skipping it entirely. This obviously does us no good. I’d rather see you start small, and do it every single time, than start big and be inconsistent.
Three areas to cover
However big or small your integration process is, there are three areas that need to be covered: culture, context, and logistics. Let me explain what I mean by each.
Somehow, during the integration process, the new employee needs to be taught about your culture. Notice that I said “taught.” In other words, we don’t want to hope that they somehow figure it out on their own. If at all possible, this should be taught by the CEO, as no one can speak as passionately and as forcefully about the culture as he/she can. If this is logistically impossible, then it should be the next highest leader in the company. This could be as simple as a 30-minute discussion, reviewing your Fundamentals, and could grow over time, but it needs to happen at the very beginning.
During integration, a new employee needs to understand how they fit into the larger picture of what you do in your company. The more they understand this, the greater their potential contribution. This includes understanding your company’s strategy, who your competitors are, what makes you different, and how the new person’s job connects to everyone else in the company. This could start as a simple discussion showing an organizational chart and highlighting each area and its relationship to the rest, but could grow over time to having the new person spend time with each department or even working in each department.
There are certain pretty mundane things that a new person needs to learn in order to work successfully in your company. These are simple things like: how the voicemail system works, who to talk to if their computer doesn’t work, how to get new business cards, or what the combination is for the back door. While they may be mundane, the longer a new person takes to learn these things, the longer it is before they’re a fully productive member of your team. Here’s an easy way to address this: Go to the last 5-10 people you hired and ask them, “Name 3 things you wish someone explained to you on the first day but no one did.” Then compile that list and make sure you teach those things to the new folks in the first week.
At the end of every integration program, it’s important to gather feedback to see what you can improve upon. Make sure that every single time you do an integration, it has at least one improvement, however minor it may be, from the last time. If you start small, stay consistent, cover the three areas noted above – culture, context, and logistics – and then make at least one improvement each time, you’ll be well on your way to creating a truly world-class program, intentionally.
If you’d like to know more about this or any of the other steps in our 8-step framework, just shoot us an e-mail or give us a call.