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Keeping Leadership Talent Engaged Starting With Hiring and Onboarding

Low employee engagement and the millions of dollars that this is costing U.S. companies each year continue to be a challenge for executive teams everywhere. Given a transient workforce, it is up to companies to hire and onboard leaders well, develop the talent and utilize it well while the leader is with the company and help employees leave well when they exit a company. Starting with hiring and onboarding gives leaders a great start to what can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

There are three things that can be done easily in the hiring and onboarding process to improve the level of employee engagement from day one.

  1. Work from a position that recognizes the transient nature of the workforce. Suzanne Rey asserts, "The days of the loyal 20-year employee are gone…most people will have at least 10 jobs in their lifetime" (source: press release for Secrets from a Body Broker). Yet, it seems that most companies are still hiring and engaging employees as if it is the employee that would be the lucky one to work for their company. It is critical that the company and the recruiter (internal or external) partner to ensure that the sourcing and recruiting processes are adequately focused on the needs of "hot talent"—from things as simple as scheduling interviews that are convenient for candidates to the time it takes to come to a consensus around which candidate will be offered the job. One of the regretful things that happens more frequently these days is having a hiring manager lose out on the "best" candidate because he/she couldn’t be interviewed until several weeks from the initial contact.
  2. Ensure that employer brand and culture are transparently reflected throughout the recruiting process. Hiring well is critical to the employee/employer relationship. Part of this is making sure that the company accurately reflects itself and its culture during the hiring process. As a retained executive search consultant, I continue to challenge myself to provide an unbiased view of the employer brand to the client and invest the time to adequately understand the culture/subcultures of the company. With this understanding, my partners and I can align the process to ensure that it adequately reflects the promise that the company is making to the potential new employee. So many leaders fail in the first year of starting a new company because they underestimate the impact of a mismatch in culture and values. Although most candidates say that they can work for anyone, that doesn’t translate to the ability to navigate in unfamiliar cultural waters.
  3. Align expectations with new leaders. Misaligned expectations are one of the major sources of failure for new leaders in their first year with a new company. To avoid this, two things need to be in place: 1) alignment within the executive team of the expectations of a new leader and 2) alignment and agreement between the hiring manager and the new leader. We have developed a process that facilitates this alignment. However, this is an area that can be quite intimidating to executives when they don’t have all the answers. After all, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it!