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To coddle or not to coddle?


In Winnipeg, Canada, a group of CEOs braved the below zero temperatures recently to gather together and discuss how to improve productivity by systematizing their new hire Onboarding programs.

After completing a painful experience of calculating the cost of keeping a non-performer in a job too long, the group was “on-board” with the concept of ramping people up or weeding people out fast.

Then, as I engaged the group in a conversation about creative ways to help new hires socialize into the company’s culture, Wynn, a successful long time business leader, shook his head.  ”I shouldn’t have to coddle people,” he said exasperated.

“To coddle or not to coddle?”, that is the new question.

Do you go out of your way to create a warm and welcoming environment with the intention of sending a message to your new hire that you are glad they have joined the team or do you shy away from anything too welcoming because you don’t want to set an unrealistic expectation?  Does it depend on the type of position?  Do you have different standards and practices for an executive versus people on the production floor?

The CEOs in the room debated the issue from both perspectives, but the bottom line was that business has changed since they were the new hire.  Thirty years ago there was an understanding between employees and employer that if the employee does a good job, they can expect job security, a pension and respect in the workplace.  The story has changed.  Young people today do not share the mindset of workers from earlier eras.  Today, the idea is to change jobs, or take on a new challenge every 1.6 years.

I don’t think there is a straight, one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much, if any, coddling you do when someone joins your company.  My firm belief, backed-up by ample research, is that creating an environment and deliberate experiences for new hires that are welcoming in tone and consistent with the company culture are worth the effort.

Instead of “coddling” people, try welcoming people in an authentic way that lets them know they are an important part of the work you do.

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Merit Gest

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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