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Posted: October 25, 2012

The devil is in the details

So why do businesspeople ignore them?

Merit Gest

Preparation before performance matters.  Would an actor be ready for the curtain to rise without detailed preparation?  Would an athlete be ready for game day without detailed preparation?  Would a presidential candidate engage in a debate without detailed preparation?  No to all of the above.

Whether you are an actor, athlete or politician, detailed preparation is the key to your success.  Why then do businesses neglect to engage in detailed preparation in advance of bringing a new employee in to their company?

Recently, I facilitated a workshop for a group of CEOs from different industries in our nation’s capital.  At the end of the session participants evaluated the content and delivery.  In this instance one participant wrote “Wow.  The level of detail was amazing.  I know exactly what to work on” and another wrote “pedantic” which I later learned meant “overly concerned about details.”  Interesting.

I make no apologies for diving into details when working with a group of business leaders on the strategies of professionally Onboarding new employees.  In fact, my entire business has thrived because of focusing on details.

An actor’s attention to detail is evidenced in an eyebrow raise that speaks volumes.  A sprint runner makes one small shift in the position of their knee when leaving the starting block and they shave important milliseconds off their best time.  A politician looks directly at the camera or has shifty eyes . . . and people base their vote on that move, giving them a sense of trust or distrust.

Details matter.  In Onboarding a new employee a detail may be having business cards pre-ordered and waiting on their desk for day one, or having the company directory updated with new employee contact information.  Clearing out the space so a new hire walks into a pristine environment matters.  These things send messages.  Who is accountable for each of the tasks and by when they will complete the task is a detail that matters.

From a CEO perspective, I can understand why the details of Onboarding feel pedantic, but if you, as the CEO, have no idea of the important details to be done, you won’t be able to delegate them and you won’t know if your costly turnover is due to silly little things that can be easily fixed or if there is a bigger issue.

The best in class companies, whether in entertainment, sports, politics or business, make it their business to handle the details.  The question is do they handle the details because they are the best in class or are they the best in class because they’ve handled the details?

As for me, I’ll run the risk of being pedantic to make sure every business leader is clear about the importance of detail when Onboarding new employees, so they ramp up fast and want to stay forever.

Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com
 

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