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Change the Conversation to Get the Best

by Nancy Dailey, Ph.D. and Kelly O'Brien

The best and the brightest want to work in an environment where they can accelerate their ability to be successful. If you can help them build and use their skills, you'll catch their attention. It's part of the 'psychological contracting' phase of recruitment, and continues to be important long after a new job is started. Smart managers know this and use it to their advantage.

Remember Your First Day at a New Job?
Odds are you do. And you probably can remember some specific details. Starting a new job makes the top 10 list of 'most stressful' situations. Yet, amazingly, many companies ignore this one-time-only opportunity to build employee loyalty, trust, and productivity. Can you use your new hire and orientation process to recruit the best? Or would you rather not bring it up during your recruiting conversation?

How would you characterize your new hire welcome policy...more like a "so glad you're here!" bonding experience...or a "sink or swim" ordeal? How a new employee is treated during his/her first days and weeks forecasts the level of company loyalty and productivity you can expect in the future. Few people, particularly the best and brightest, respond well to a "sink or swim" orientation to the company.

There's definitely something in this for you, too. Research shows that there is a direct relationship between effective orientation (beginning with the recruitment experience), employee productivity, turnover, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line. Investing upfront time and energy in a new employee's career will give you tangible returns, including improved employee productivity, more opportunity for delegation, less stress, fewer mistakes, and more satisfied customers.

Psychological Contracting -- It's Good Business Practice
Psychological contracting is the dynamic that begins in the recruitment process and continues during the first few months of employment. This is when the elements of mutual trust, reciprocal commitment, and respect are formed. It is usually unspoken, but powerfully played just the same. Essentially it goes like this..."You take care of me, I'll take care of you...You give me the right information, in the right way, at the right time, and I'll do the same for you..." The seed of this implicit promise is planted during the recruitment process. Execution on that promise begins the first day of employment. Like your brand promise to your customers, it needs to be managed, not left to chance. Attending to psychological contracting is good business practice. It tells your new hires that you're prepared to live up to the promise you made during recruitment.

Change Your Recruiting Conversation
Employee retention and productivity start in recruiting. Move beyond the "what are you going to do for us?" and "what we will do for you" conversation. Change the recruiting dialog to promote and market the experience your new hire will have once on board.

Nancy Dailey, Ph.D. and Kelly O'Brienare social scientists who help companies navigate the complicated people issues involved in CRM implementation.

First published on 8/26/02

First published on 08/26/2002

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