Have you found yourself saying ‘Yes’ to something at work and as you said it you wished you had said ‘No’?
This sound familiar:
Coworker: “Hey Jezebel, we’re starting a new project team to [insert mindless crap you don’t want to do] and we need an extra person. I know you’re swamped, it’s last minute and a bit outside your work but we could really use the help.”
Jezebel: [yes, this is you] “Oh I don’t know, I’m really busy with a lot of other projects. I’m in over my head already.”
Coworker: “C’mon, we really could use your help. We don’t have any other options and we can’t do it without you. Plus, you’re good at running projects. I’ll buy you lunch too!”
Jezebel: [still you] “Ughhh, okay fine. Just let me know when we’ll start.”
Coworker: “Right now.”
Let’s be honest here – this has happened to all of us at one point or another, and I’ve been Jezebel on more occasions than I’d care to admit. So why do we have such a hard time saying no at work?
Here’s are the nine most common reasons why we say yes at work when no is what we’re screaming from the mountain tops, silently in our heads of course:
Saying yes when you really want to say no is indeed a problem. According to the Harvard Business Review many of us say yes to avoid conflict at the office. When we experience this it leaves us deflated, frustrated and stressed. It can also lead to resentment between coworkers and an unhealthy work environment. Sounds fantastic!
So how do we go about saying no while doing so professionally and politely?
Dr. Travis Bradley, author of the best-selling book ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’ and contributor for Forbes Magazine, summarizes the art of saying no beautifully in 5 steps:
When we say no our “ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects you’re in the drivers seat of your own life. It gives you a sense of empowerment.” – Vanessa Patrick, Prof at University of Houston
In theory this sounds fantastic. It’s a new sense of self. We’re walking tall and not going to take crap from no one. We’re almost begging for an opportunity to show off our new ‘No’ skills. Before you go off dodging and ducking everything that comes your way at the office make sure you keep in mind two things before you consider a ‘No’:
If the answer to either of these questions is yes be sure to purposefully slow your decision making down and get introspective.
Making decisions about your career, involvement in work at the office, supporting your boss or other management and professional opportunities up for considered is no easy task. It’s rarely a black and white decision as moments like this love to play in the gray area. When you’re confronted with a tough decision and you feel like you want to say no quickly think about the two questions above, assess the situation then move forward with your answer. If ‘No’ is still the right choice be sure to follow Dr. Bradberry’s advice to ensure your no lands as best as possible with your audience.
If you’re hiring or plan to hire this year it’s important you know two truths about present day hiring:
After a decade of working in the technical services and recruiting industry I’ve had few experiences, less than I can count on one hand, with companies that had onboarding programs which I would classify as amazing. Most companies fall short, way short, when it comes to providing a good onboarding experience to their new employees.
There’s an important note to be made here. When people hear ‘hiring’ and ‘onboarding’ they have a tendency to think that those responsibilities fall on our partners in HR. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The leaders who make the actual hiring decision have much to do with this process and good leaders know firsthand that their involvement can make or break the success of that new employee.
Employees, regardless of age, are looking for an ‘experience’ at work. Of course having a job is important to them but increasingly important, arguably more important, for a large majority of the professional workforce is the need to work at a place that provides an experience of comradery, meaningfulness in work, giving back, etc. and the list goes on.
Part of that experience is a company’s onboarding program and these programs shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Does your current employee onboarding program communicate the right message to the best candidates in the market?
Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. In fact, new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years.
That’s a huge impact!
According to iCIMS, a software company specializing in recruiting systems and software, identified that new hires meet their first performance milestone 77% of the time when a formal onboarding program is in place versus only 49% of the time when one ceases to exist.
What that tells us is that when a good employee onboarding program exist BOTH individual performance and job tenure improve dramatically. I would also dare to say that the employees’ happiness and appreciation for the job are improved as well.
What do you do if your employee onboarding program lacks an experience to capture the best of the best?
Look no further – this article provides a complete overview of the only onboarding program you will ever need. Be prepared. There’s some work to be done here before you can just go hire someone and plop them in their bean bag cubby, or dungeon, whichever you’re working with. For the purposes of this article the ‘onboarding experience’ refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program:
Step 1: Candidate Identification
This is the employees’ first glimpse into your company, their experience during this time matters greatly as to whether or not you will have an employee for years or for a matter of months.
- Job Posting – make them friendly and exciting; talk less about performance expectations and more about the opportunity and experience they will have in the role; create enthusiasm in candidates by sharing with candidates exciting things to come like new technology, new services, positive changes within the company, company culture or philosophies, etc.
- Call Backs - ensure people receive call backs to their application; there’s nothing worse than when people apply to a job opening and don’t hear anything in return; automated responses acknowledging the resume submission are at a minimum a necessity, at which point an acceptance or notice of decline is appropriate and certainly better than not saying anything at all and sending people into a black hole.
For the rest of the article click here...
Have you ever felt this way on your first day on the job?
“Welcome to [insert your company name here]. We’re glad you’ve joined us. Now that you are an employee please note the following... We ask that you not ever leave your cubical unless it’s to use the complimentary copy machine or in case of an emergency. Bathroom breaks are two minutes long and can only be taken at, oh I’m sorry, you’ve already missed that window today. We discourage you from talking with the other people in your vicinity, so don’t do it. If you have a problem, please feel free to Google your own solution from your smart phone, but not your work computer. Your training will consist of, well we’re not sure at this point so we’ll keep you posted on that. Thank you for your unconditional submission of your body and soul and welcome to the team.”
While that may be grossly dramatized, more for my own amusement than anything else, it is incredible how often employees on day-1 feel this same way. While their new employer might not communicate directly in this manner the end result is that they leave people feeling miserable on their first week of the job primarily because the company hasn’t put enough focus into their ‘onboarding experience’.
I’ve experienced this directly myself. When I started with a company many moons ago I showed up on my first day to have no computer, no trainer/ direction and no workstation. As a result I had to use a computer in the office lobby for my first week completely disconnected from the rest of my new colleagues. Few times did someone come to check up on me. I was handed a large booklet and told that I needed to work through the various sections as quickly as possible. Once I was done I was to tell the office manager and they would think of the next thing for me to do. An awful first impression to say the least.
The onboarding experience is a crucial first impression and we had mentioned last week that Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. When we started the discussion last week on SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program the focus was to bring light to a full proof way of making sure your new employees were welcomed with open arms and given all the tools to be successful with their new jobs.
As a reminder, we will reference the term ‘onboarding experience’ several times throughout this article which refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
If you missed part-1 of this article from last week click here to view:
Step-1: Candidate Identification
Step-2: Interview Process
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program (continued):
- Appreciation – when contacting the candidate who just gave their life to your tireless interview process it’s important to start off appreciating the time they spent with you and your cohorts. They most likely had to rearrange and adjust their personal lives and dodge their current employer in order to make your interviews. Taking a moment to say thank you is the least we can do.
- Personal Touch – I’ve always found it odd that in many companies HR or a recruiter is the one that makes the offer to the candidate, not the direct hiring manager. I’m aware that this is done many times for legal reasons however it leaves a bit of a cold impression with candidates. As a leader I have always found it important to call the people I’m looking to hire directly and discuss the offer letter with them one-on-one. No one will have more enthusiasm and passion about wanting to hire the new employee than the actual hiring manager themselves. A key piece here is that if you are going to go this route and you haven’t had experience doing it before it would be good to take a moment to speak with your HR group to understand what can and cannot be said during these calls.
- Spoken Word & Paper – it isn’t enough to verbally offer someone the job. Professional companies out there big and small follow up the verbal offer with a formal job offer which covers every aspect of their prospective employment. This offer should also require the candidate to sign off on the terms of their prospective employment so there is little room for someone to come back and say they didn’t understand what they were getting into. Email the offer letter on company letterhead as a PDF copy for quick follow through.
- Open Dialogue – when discussing the offer letter make sure to ask the candidate for their feedback once they have had an opportunity to review the fine print. It’s important that all parties involved understand all aspects of the proposed new partnership between employee and employer.
Step-4: Physical Onboarding
- Greetings – a designated person within the company, preferably the hiring manager, should be ready to greet the new arrival on their first day on the job. There’s nothing more classy than for the new hire to walk into the lobby and see a friendly face there to greet them and get the day started.
Click HERE for the full article.
It’s day-1 and you’re off to the races with a new job along with all the best intentions to make this the best career yet.
As day-1 unfolds something very strange begins to build within you. Your stomach aches as it ties itself into knots like a boy scout at a retreat, you feel like vomiting could occur if you could only find the nearest trash can and hurl your brains out without being seen. Your skin begins to itch as your mind runs a marathon dealing with the uncomfortable thoughts that are swirling in your brain. (no you’re not hung over)
Welcome to an experience I like to call ‘career buyers’ remorse’!It happens more than you think it does and can cause a lot more damage than people realize.
How is it someone can meander their way through an entire interview process, offer and onboarding to find out within a matter of hours on their first day at work that they have made a very unfortunate decision about their career? They know it in the pit of their stomach that this new employer is NOT for them.
How does this happen?
For starters, the interview process is like dating, everyone is trying to put their best foot forward to impress the other person. Then when we decide to make things official between employee and employer and the first day at work comes along, and first impression for that matter, the experience can produce a potentially lethal blow to the relationship moving forward.
First impressions in business make or break the entire outcome of an experience. Carol Kinsey Goman, with Forbes magazine, says we have seven seconds to make a first impression. Seven seconds?! What about a whole day consisting of 8+ hours of work at a new job where you don’t know anyone.
For these reasons and many more, it’s vital that companies consider their onboarding experience and how they show up to prospective employees from the very beginning of the job posting through to their six month performance review.
Over the last two weeks we covered part-1 and part-2 of the three part series, ‘Why Your New Employee Wants to Quit’. To access the first two parts of this article:
Part-1 click here
Part-2 click here
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program (continued):
Step-5: The 3 Month Experience
- Week 1 – we discussed in Step-4 some of the items to do and not do on the first day. The rest of week 1 is a crucial 40 hour period in which the success of your new employee greatly hinges on your ability to communicate with them the details and responsibilities of their role, impact they can make to the company and your expectations. The key in week one is to cover all of these topics at a high level without going into too much detail. You want to give your new employee enough information to settle their appetite for knowledge and curiosity without overwhelming them. Set formal meetings in the calendar for the weeks to come for one-on-one meetings with your new employee, make sure you invite them so they know what’s to come ahead of time.
- Month 1 – Within the first month you want to accomplish the following: establish performance expectations set with their job for the remainder of the year; scheduled follow up meetings once a month to discuss their performance and collect their feedback; discuss company goals and your divisional /team goals fit into it, establish formal performance metrics; provide your new employee with a larger agenda which spans out the rest of their six month onboarding process; take your new employee on an adventure to broaden their perspective (visit a customer or supplier, take them to an industry event, invite them to join a management meeting, etc.). At the end of the first month your new employee should know all the in’s and out’s of what is expected of them in their new role as well as already be working towards a first goal within their performance expectations. Hint – get their ‘Buddy’ to help them with some of these things.
- Month 2 & 3 – After you’ve locked up all the details of your new found relationship with your new employee from month 1 you’ll want to focus on developing a better relationship with them in the coming months. Key here is trust and respect. I know you’re the boss and you make all the decisions but it’s important to remember the single best thing you can do as a leader is CARE about the people you serve as a leader. Over the next two months you will want to spend time with your new employee, share ideas and perspective with them, ask them for their opinions and build trust through saying you will do things then follow through on them. You will also have at least two formal meetings with your new employee during this time where it will be important to seek their thoughts and feedback on how things are progressing. Don’t be afraid to deliver tough love if you need too, you’ll be far better off calling things in the moment as you see them rather than waiting months down the road.
- Team Event – there’s no better way to introduce a new player to the team culture than through a team event. This outing can be anything – formal, casual, trust falls, community volunteering, happy hours, picnics, etc. The important thing to remember is the phrase diversity and inclusion. You want to pick an event or outing everyone can do (not everyone is capable of scaling a 10 foot wall on an obstacle course) to make sure that everybody is included providing the best opportunity for the team to bond and get to know one another at a deeper level.
Step 6: The 4-6 Month Finale
- More of the Same – it might not sound exciting but in these next three months consistency is the key to success. Continue with your one-on-one’s each month and ensure your new employee knows they are supported and part of the team, always. The more time you spend with them the better chances you will have a new partner for the long haul and the less chance you’ll experience a ‘batman’. (leaving the scene without telling anyone)
- Six Month Onboarding Feedback – during your final one-on-one with your new employee at the end of the six month onboarding make sure to spend some time with them asking their feedback on how they felt their first six months went.
- Performance Review – if you’ve done it right you have probably been discussing their performance monthly throughout the six month onboarding experience. Make sure towards the end of the six month you schedule a formal review where you are openly discussing their performance in relation to the metrics that were set up when the person started. Hopefully everything is lovely however if that isn’t the case having a formal review early on in the game sets you up to start documenting underperforming behaviors. We aren’t trying to catch someone do something wrong, we’re actually trying to help them do everything right and be successful.
Unfortunately there will always be the occasional situation where someone falls short of expectation no matter how hard you try to help them and in these moments its best you start tracking it early on so you have a healthy document trail should the inevitable termination occur down the road. Again, I must stress the reason for this meeting is more for checking in to see where you as the leader can help and also show praise for efforts leading up to this point.
- Praise Performance – this is not a step which should be left for last as it is an important part of a leader’s responsibility to always be on the lookout for people doing great things and then recognizing them for it. Assuming you have been doing this all along, a great way to end the six month onboarding experience is to share with the employee what it means to you (as the leader) to have this person on your team. It might sound a bit cheesy and overly emotional at first however I can promise you MOST people in this world would love to have their boss sit them down at the end of their first six months to hear their boss share ‘why she is thankful to have me on their team’.
The onboarding experience is one which often goes overlooked yet carries such a big impact to the company’s culture, competitiveness in the market and bottom line. When we focus more of our energy on providing people with a great work experience we’ll spend less time dealing with employee turnover and more time on what matters – being great leaders.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.