6 Strategies for Turning New Employees into Winners

Maximize their potential by setting them up for success at the start.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm. I watched my grandfather plant crops every year. It was amazing how much effort he had to put in during the planting season. The only other time that took as much or more work was harvesting. He had to overdo it at the start, because if the soil wasn’t just right, if the seeds weren’t planted just so, if he didn’t fertilize with the right product, and if he didn’t water enough, the crop would fail and their livelihood for the year would be crushed.

Every time you bring on a new employee, you’re planting. New employees are fragile at the start, and they need special attention from you if you want them to become people you can count on to produce winning results. If you put in the right effort, they’ll win and so will you. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a failed hire and you’ll lose out on your investment of time, money, and focus.

If you want to be a serial winner as a leader, you have to apply the Cycle of Winning to how you approach hiring. Overdoing it at the start is critical. Set your new employees up for success by helping them learn how to be a winner early on—for their sake and yours. The following tips should help.

  1. Create the right environment: When a new employee walks in on the first day and looks around, what messages is she getting?
  • Do you have recent results posted on the walls?
  • Is it clear what you’re tracking that week or month?
  • Are there signs of recent team wins—awards, news, banners, customer praise?
  • In meetings, do you focus on big wins and how the team made them happen?

Look around your office and decide if you’re using the space to send the right messages to your current team members and to the newbies.

  1. Tell success stories: Use success stories of junior team members who have done or are doing things incredibly well. It informs new people indirectly of where they need to focus their time and energy. When you tell them how other people did it, it educates them. And when you reveal what’s possible with the right focus and effort, you inspire them. Use success stories to imprint winning patterns.
  1. Involve them in the team: In addition to their regular work, give them responsibilities that let them help the team out in small ways. Let them gather data, run reports, communicate with other departments, even train the next people you hire—anything that will accelerate their maturity, help them feel part of the team, and improve their understanding of the organization.
  1. Share resources for improving: Point them to or give them lists of books, articles, podcasts, blogs, or newsletters to accelerate their learning at their particular level.
  1. Create a picture of long-term career success: Look for every opportunity to introduce them to successful people at the levels above them. Help take the mystery out of what these people are like and how they grew in their careers. It gives them a picture of what’s possible and how to move up, which helps increase the odds that they’ll stay.
  1. Make an effort to meet the spouse or significant other: Now, a lot of people feel like work life and personal life shouldn’t mix. And some new employees may not be open to this. But I recommend that you take your new hire and his significant other out to lunch. Get to know them, help the partner understand what it is that the team does and the opportunities available, and create an open door of communication. This is the person your new employee goes home to at the end of the day. The more supportive that person is, the better.

I’d love to hear which of these strategies you’ve use, and how you’ve used them. Please comment below and share what you’ve done that has worked well with the community.

You can also use my SlideShare presentation on this topic and use it to share the core ideas with the other leaders on your team.

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