Improve Retention by Telling Them Why They Were Hired

Years ago I wrote a letter to a new employee. That changed the focus of my introduction of new employees to offices that I managed.

She came from a banking background and had applied for a job in the university advancement shop that I managed. I saw many of her skills and experiences to be transferrable:  customer focus, appreciation for others’ attention to dollars when it is their money, detail oriented, etc.  So, when she I arrived for her first day at work, I gave her a letter that gave her insights into the culture and profession that she had just entered, and I also highlighted the aspects of her experiences and personality that I wanted in my office.  From then on, I shared with new employees that letter, albeit with the information deleted that was about Brenda specifically.  About 15 years ago, I added a personal conversation about a similar topic to occur on a new employee’s first day.

“Hi, there. Welcome to the office of university advancement.  I’m glad you were able to join the team.  Now that you’re here, I wanted to point out the things that you said and did during the interview that inspired us to offer the job to you.  Make sure that you keep doing those things.  I hope you weren’t faking it, because that’s what got you here.  Do those things.  Those are great and important things for this office.”  And then we would have some friendly chit-chat, and one more clarifying statement:  “The fastest way out of this office is to mess with the chemistry.”   Almost everyone appreciated the candor and the clarity that came from those sentiments.

Never make someone figure out why they were hired. Make it clear.  Remind them in coachable moments regarding performance or behaviors.  It makes a difference.

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