I just hired a top-performer… Now what? … How do I ‘Counter-offer proof’ and ‘Headhunter-proof’ him/her?

Scored the Touch-down and that new A-player is joining your team, yay!

Let’s look at how to craft a great start and long stay.

Studies tell us the first 6 months of employment is crucial – within that time new hires decide if they will stay or leave. Yes, even those who stay on for another year because they don’t want to be seen as job-hoppers… And top performers have options, they are always in demand; but it is possible to ‘Counter-offer proof’ and ‘Headhunter-proof’ them by continuing the 5 star candidate experience.

Integration of Ways is that next phase in a candidate’s relationship with his/her new employer and colleagues. Individuals learn how to fit in and work with the team, and over time they influence the way things are done through their contributions. This part cannot be rushed, it takes time to build the trust, confidence and mutual commitment to step up to the next level of relationship.

Effective onboarding is crucial here and should start as soon as an offer is accepted. A sense of being welcome and already belonging in the team goes far in quieting the noise around them – whether it is other opportunities, counter-offers, fear of change.

By contrast, leaving a new employee out in the cold, with little or no contact during the 30 – 60 days before they start employment, can cause the noise around them to become so loud they no longer hear the call to this great new opportunity.

A structured onboarding programme should include most/all of the following:

Pre-start Onboarding

  • Completing the paperwork – instead of spending their whole first day filling in forms, give them time to consider salary structuring and options on benefits. Have a contact person in HR or Rem available who can answer questions and explain things. And if online templates with digital signatures are possible it makes things so much easier for them.
  • Onboarding template – provide them with a checklist of everything they need to do/see so they can tick it off as done.
  • Contact with the line manager – to answer questions on the work of the role and expectations so that they know what to focus on when they start.
  • Context – give them information on the company, its clients, its product, its competitors. Every employee plays a part in selling the product, the more they know the better they can fulfil their part.
  • Team – top performers want to work with other top-performers. Having some knowledge of who they will be working with makes it exciting to join the team.

First day / Week 1 / Months 6-12

  • Be ready – desk, access cards, phone. Reception should expect them. Keep up the 5-star experience. First impressions still count.
  • Training – provide more in-depth training on the company, its products, technical aspects, IT systems – the tools they need to function and to be successful.
  • A fast start – top performers need challenges and feel they earn their keep. Give them some interesting things to work on, but allow them to crawl before they walk, before they run.
  • Performance expectations – make sure they understand the speed with which they should reach certain milestones and those expectations set for the 1st At end of 90 days they should ideally be performing at 80%, then gear up to full capacity.
  • Communication – a weekly one-on-one check-in with their manager for the first 3 months creates a platform for reviewing problems, challenges, successes before anything escalates into a big issue. After the initial 3 months this can be stretched to 2 weekly and then monthly meetings, but should not be dropped even if it seems that they are on-track. Some things just take longer and you don’t want to risk losing them due a small issue which could have been handled early on. It shows the company cares.
  • Support – being assigned an onboarding buddy/mentor /coach in the team to go to with problems and questions is very effective. Other than providing quick access to information it speeds up the building of social connections and belonging.
  • Show them the ‘lay of the land’ – an on-line organogram with photos, titles and bios to refer to so they don’t feel ‘lost’ in meetings and they can easily see who does what.

Important to remember:

  • Top performers want to work with other top performers and strong leaders. They relish challenges so they can grow and excel; they are not spectators, they are implementers. The whole first year should confirm for them that they can achieve their vision within this team and this company. When this is settled – and it really does take 12 months – they can move into their Strategic Purpose.
  • Onboarding is doubly as important with executives, as 40% of executives fail in their first 18 months (The Corporate Leadership Council). Even if internally promoted, it makes sense to give them a coach/mentor in the Exec team, uphold frequent opportunities for communication and feedback with their superior, set and manage performance expectations clearly.
  • A structured onboarding process might also show that a new hire is not an ideal fit for the organisation. After 6-12 months of clear communication and feedback both parties should understand this and their exit can be handled much more smoothly.

Closing with this: numerous studies have been done on the effectiveness of a well-structured longer-term onboarding process. It increases retention rates from 30% to as high as 90% for the first 12-month period, and 58% higher after 3 years (Aberdeen Group, SHRM). Effectiveness and performance also increase exponentially, enabling new hires to reach their performance milestones.

The cooperation of all parties, involving line manager, HR and team, is key to a successful onboarding program. It takes effort, but is do-able. Most importantly it delivers great results in integrating the new hire into the organisation.

Turnover is costly, and especially where it comes to top performers, it makes sense to spend more time and effort on creating a strong start and secure their stay.

When this Integration of Ways is established, the relationship can step up to the next phases: Strategic Intentions, Ultimate Productivity and Personally Invested Stakeholder/Shareholders. More on that in the next article.

Contact us