If you own a business, you are responsible for every detail in your company: hiring, firing, and everything in between.
When a key employee hands you their resignation letter… what is your typical response?
Do you feel alarmed, frustrated, nervous, or angry?
Are you afraid of what could go wrong?
Without a clearly defined processes to deal with unexpected turnover in your company, you will be facing a lot of unknowns. Risk Intelligence is the ability to perceive what could happen before it happens.
If you feel blindsided by a sudden resignation, or shocked by events that forced you to fire key staff members, then it’s time to boost your level of risk intelligence.
What is the Hiring Cycle?
On top of all the daily tasks on a business owner’s to-do list, managing staff is usually the most stressful. The ability to oversee daily activities, while generating a profit, and doing it in a way that your staff feel good about doing it, is a difficult balancing act.
Think about the big picture of your company, from your first sale to the present moment. You are responsible for hiring and firing employees, evaluating their performance, and covering all your bases when they depart (whether amicably or not).
All of these are part of your Hiring Cycle, which is every step in hiring and caring for an employee.
Here is how a Hiring Cycle might look:
- The process starts when you launch your company.
- You decide which services or products to provide, and to which customers.
- Then, you realize that you’ll need help accomplishing the tasks that will result in a profit.
- So you look for an individual who is capable of producing the best output, at a reasonable cost.
- Then you invite this person to join your company.
- Once they accept the offer, you bring them “on board.” (see next section)
- You review their output and make sure it helps the company to achieve its objectives.
- Eventually, your employee will leave your company voluntarily or involuntarily, which is also called turnover.
The Onboarding Process
Onboarding is what happens when an employee joins your company. I define it as a the standardized welcoming new staff using an orientation process that:
- integrates new employees into the organization’s culture, policies & procedures, and objectives; and
- familiarizes them with the organization’s services or products, core philosophy, methodology, and what to expect in every stage of the buying cycle.
During onboarding, new employees (or customers) can expect to:
- acquire the necessary knowledge and skills (training),
- align with expected behaviors (culture), and
- ascertain the value expected to meet the organization’s goals (objectives).
Since every organization has a unique philosophy and culture, the hiring and onboarding process can very different from one place to the next.
But generally, onboarding steps include these components:
- explain the company’s culture
- establish rules and boundaries (what should happen, by which time, by which person, with what result)
- define the rewards and consequences of good and bad behavior
- explain the position’s responsibilities
- provide resources and training needed to do the job
- clarify the expected outcomes (what results I’m expected to produce), and
- set measures that help the employee adjust their performance compared to expected outcomes.
It’s super important that your new employee understands the expectations, outcomes, and appropriate behaviors of their job before they are hired. Once they join your company, the cost of “undoing” the hiring becomes much more expensive (and arduous).
Read more about creating the right kind of company culture: Understanding the Culture of a Company, Part 1: Surface Culture
The Offboarding Process
Employees don’t last forever. When the time comes for a staff member to leave, the hiring cycle moves into the Offboarding stage.
Offboarding is a standardized process you use to transition an employee (or a customer) out of your organization. Companies with effective offboarding use 3 components:
1. Keep communication open
- Leaders convey a sense of trust and a desire to hear “bad news.”
2. Insure a peaceful transfer of knowledge & assets
- Handoffs are seamless.
- All property and access mechanisms are retrieved without incident.
- The threats of waste, loss, fraud, and abuse of power are minimal.
3. Update Organizational access
- The employee’s name and contact info are removed from all directories.
- All security gaps are closed.
- Logins and other access are revoked.
Completing the Turnover Loop
One final consideration for an Offboarding Process is the opportunity to hear what went wrong. We do this by gathering feedback. (see image below)
There are several benefits to using a feedback loop. Not only does it provide closure for the exiting employee, you also benefit from an awareness of potential problems that could continue to happen.
Doing this will boost your risk intelligence, because you will learn how to distinguish:
- which actions to avoid (because they will cause loss or harm), and
- which actions to take (because it will position you for better future outcomes).
Even if your employee is not leaving on good terms, she or he can still offer extremely valuable information about what could have been done better, which processes could be improved, and how to improve communication.
I also recommend using Participatory Job Design, which is a philosophy of leveling out your company by involving employees in the process of establishing their job role. Companies that use this method trust their employees. They create a framework where staff can provide feedback on how their job role connects to strategic goals, which measures should be used to determine progress toward those goals, and how the strategic plan could be improved.
Inviting your Foundational Staff to establish their own expectations of their position gives them a sense of ownership. They feel respected and appreciated, which will lead to a huge boost of engagement and more productivity—as well as higher profits.
Read more: “Employee For a Day”: How to Start
Increasing your level of risk intelligence requires a lot of hard work and introspection. It is an ongoing process of evaluating what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve. This Staff Turnover series will continue with the topic “How to Calculate What Staff Turnover is Costing You.”
I would love to hear from you.
What do you think about onboarding and offboarding? Are you using a structured process for hiring, or is your process more organic?
If you want help reversing a toxic workplace, find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.