Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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The Biggest Mistake to Make With New Employees

By Darryl Stewart, Head of the Herd 

Over the years, IBEX has had some tremendous success with employee engagement.   I’m proud of our efforts and believe they go a long way to making IBEX a great place to work and to do business.  However, I also know that we’ve also had our share of failures along the way.

I readily admit, not all of our ideas work and I personally have made more than a few mistakes along the way.  I’ve made poor hiring decisions, communicated poorly, acted too quickly, acted too slowly, left people out of the loop, and so on and so on.   I’ve also fallen into one of the most common traps of all when it comes to employee engagement – “going too far, too fast”.

In my zealous efforts to engage employees, I sometimes forget the basics.  I’m so eager to share my passion for the company and where we’re headed, that I forget to give clear information about a specific job and what’s expected.  And this, according to the Gallop Organization is a big no, no when it comes to engaging employees.

Research by Gallop on millions of employees proves conclusively that when people first start a new job or new role, you need to meet their basic job needs before doing anything else.

What are basic job needs?

  1. The need to know what is expected of them at work.
  2. The need to have the right tools and equipment to do the work right.

According to “First, Break All The Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (a book based on Gallop research) this is called “Base Camp”, the first camp of four on the way to great employee engagement.  Some of the higher camps include things like the relevance of the company mission statement and whether or not someone’s opinion seems to count.  Gallop also proves conclusively that, just like climbing Everest, you can’t skip camps.  People don’t care about the company mission when they’re not sure if they are meeting expectations or they don’t have the right tools and equipment to get the job done.

Oops, guilty as charged.  There have been several occasions where I have jumped the gun with employees; times where I’ve been so busy talking about the big picture and where we’re heading that I’ve neglected to ensure the employees know exactly what’s expected of them, how their progress will be determined and that they have the right information and tools to do the job.

Gallop reminded me that just because we have a lot of engagement activities going on, we can’t forget the basics and ensure all employees – new and existing start off at “base camp”. We need to keep in mind that new hires or people switching roles will not become engaged at IBEX automatically by things like our daily huddles and well developed personal coaching system.  Before anything else, they first need to know what is expected and how it will be measured and then be equipped with the right tools and information to fulfill those expectations well.

One thing that we have done at IBEX to ensure we’re meeting these basic needs is using Goal Sheets (for a sample copy, just leave a comment on this posting).  On a goal sheet a manager and employee define together an expected goal and get down into how progress will be monitored towards the goal and what specific actions will likely be required to meet the goal.   A completed goal sheet gives an employee a way to see if they are meeting expectations or not.

These goal sheets have recently made a difference for me with a new staff member.  The process forced me to think through exactly what my expectations were, helped show that I care about the person’s success and gave the employee a concrete understanding of what their role is.  A concrete tool like this is a great reminder for me to start at base camp and ensure every employee’s basic job needs are met.

I guess it’s true what they say; you have to learn to walk before you can learn to run.