Are You In Pursuit Of Excellence?

Over 160 years ago, Queen Victoria watched a sailing race between the Isle of Wight and the south coast of England. A schooner, named America, passed the Royal Yacht in first position, and saluted by dipping its ensign three times, She asked one of her attendant’s who came in second place; they replied, ”Your Majesty, there is no second.” Those four words still deliver the best description of the America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence. It takes a highly talented group of people to win the America’s Cup. It takes a highly talented group of people to win in business, in healthcare, in manufacturing, in professional services and so on – yet so many successful organizations of every size, leave the pursuit of excellence up to chance when ensuring talent reaches full productivity.

A survey of over 600 CEOs by Harvard Business School estimated the typical mid-level managers require 6.2 months to reach their break-even point to recoup the initial hiring investment – an average placement fee for a mid-level manager with a base compensation of $98,000 is $24,500, and their average tenure is less than 24 months with nearly 40% of these hires leaving in less than a year. Another staggering statistic is two out of every five CEOs fail within 18 months, according to HBR ‘s Dan Ciampa. If people are your single greatest asset, then why are you leaving their success or failure up to chance time and time again?

How much would you save if you were able to reduce new hire turnover by 3, 5 or even 10%, given the total cost of staff turnover is widely accepted to be between 1X to 1.5X an employee’s salary?

Three key reasons why onboarding is the most critical component of hiring new and promoting employees:

  • Minimize the ramp-up time to deliver results sooner,
  • Ensure culture fit within the organization to mitigate risk of poor fit,
  • Protect your investment by minimizing the risk of premature departure

How long will you tolerate throwing good money after poor results? At some point, you’d think you might want to ask yourself, “How long will this @#$% go on?” Other results of note:

  • Almost 30% of companies reported it takes a year or longer for a new employee to reach full productivity.
  • 25% of companies said their onboarding program did not include any kind of training.
  • And 60% of companies indicated they don’t set any milestones or goals for new hires.

There’s energy and excitement with every new hire. Everyone wants to make a great first impression. Yet when the dust settles, somewhere between day 90 and month 6, everyone’s bad behaviors show who we truly are! And, the new hire is wondering the same thing you are, “why are they here?”

I’ve never met a CEO who lets money fly out the window

We further perpetuate the 180 degree Pursuit of Excellence by the amount of investment dedicated to onboarding, actually the lack of it. With approximately 35% of companies spend $0 on onboarding. Why? You see employees as an expense PERIOD. Your professional behaviors say, “I don’t value people and furthermore I’m not investing in your success,” and you’re nose-blind to the fact, “Oh, that’s right, my success is dependent on your success.” Understand budgets are tight and the economy is still bouncing along the bottom with momentary glimpses of favorable outcomes, yet little is sustainable. This article is not meant to beat you up, but to awaken you to stop repeating the same mistakes looking for a different outcome.

So, let me get this’re willing to spend $15 to $25,000 on a new hire and $0 on making them productive or ensuring they’re successful to the level of your expectations for hiring them in the first place?

I was hitting golf balls the other day on the practice tee, and I overheard a middle-aged student explaining to the teaching professional his reasons for not following the pro’s advice. Hmmm. He pays him, so he can tell the pro what he’s not doing and why…let that sink in a bit. What’s the first step you can take with your next new hire? Gauge the pulse of what’s currently going on with new hires within your organization with these 3 simple steps:

  • Time. Know how long it takes for an employee to become fully productive. The purpose of onboarding is to give employees the information they need, when they need it.
  • Root Cause. Find out why people are leaving the company and what caused them to go looking in the first place. Apply what you learn to create change!
  • I Like It! Ask employees what they like about working for the organization and ensure new hires know about them.

Let me share with you what Onboarding is not. It’s not orientation. Nor, is it a couple weeks of meeting people, job sharing or shadowing and it’s not having a buddy or a mentor to “go to” when it’s not going so well. There should be a formalized orientation program that does indoctrinate the new hire into the culture of “how we do things around here” and “where to go” for resources, new-hire workplace meetings and so on; that’s orientation, not onboarding.

Studies show the initial weeks and months of a new hires tenure are critical. Getting it right can dramatically accelerate the transformation of a new recruit into a fully functioning business leader.  Getting it wrong can be very costly as research shows the average cost of a failed executive hire is $2.7 million USD (Forbes 5/2008).  

Onboarding is a natural extension, a complementary asset in rhythm to a formalized orientation program to engage a new hire, the hiring authority and key constituents to be fully functioning faster – it’s an expected outcome with no surprises. It is our belief at Brookestone Associates, an onboarding program cannot be an integrated or a “bolt-on” software platform to your HRIS or HRMS – that’s electronic baby-sitting, impersonal and yields marginal results. When compared to what we deliver – a 5-10X return on your investment – frankly it’s what you should demand as an organizational leader. Can your service provider make that statement?

Just as there’s no second place in sailing or business success, retaining top talent to optimize your organization’s performance is critical in today’s global economy. Set the tone with an onboarding program that demonstrates your commitment and delivers an accelerated path to expected results and higher job satisfaction. Connect here on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or for more information on our solutions, please review our website or contact me +1 205-482-2177  to discuss how an Onboarding solution ensures success for your company today and beyond!

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