In the past two months, I’ve discussed trade recruitment, hiring and training, drawing largely from the expertise of my friend Al Levi, who heads Appleseed Business Inc. (www.appleseedbusiness.com). Those articles can be accessed from our online archives at www.roofingcontractor.com.
Recruiting and hiring people comprise only half the battle. All the expense and effort you put into it can be lost if they don’t like working for you. So this month we’ll discuss how to get off on the right foot introducing top-notch people to your company.
OrientationCan you remember your first day starting a new job? It can be an unpleasant, disorienting experience. You don’t know anyone and very little about the company and its work. You even have to ask where the bathroom is located. Current employees regard you as a stranger and look at you with suspicion out of the corner of their eyes. Nobody talks to you, and some may regard you as a threat.
The term “buyer’s remorse” applies as much to new employees as it does to people who buy things they regret. You don’t want newcomers to spend the first few days wondering if they made a mistake. The way to avoid that is to establish orientation procedures for welcoming new employees into the company.
How you treat new employees during the first few weeks in your company will typically determine their effectiveness for the rest of the time they spend working for you. The cold shoulder treatment tends to linger in the memory even after people get to know some co-workers.
Welcome new employees to the company by arranging for a guided tour on their first day. Arrange for the appropriate staff member to show the new employee around the facility and introduce them to all of the staff members. Ideally, the first day should be comprised primarily of meetings. New staff members should also be formally introduced to the rest of the staff in a company-wide meeting on day one.
ChecklistsEver hear from a new employee phrases like “You never gave me that,” or “You never showed me that”?
You can minimize this by establishing a complete orientation checklist detailing all the supplies a new employee needs and things he or she needs to know. Start them right away on signing for everything they get - tools, uniforms, safety gear, etc. This will ensure accountability and responsibility for company materials.
The “supplies” checklist would be one section. The checklist also should include a list of the people the employee needs to be introduced to, company policies that need to be agreed to, and so on. By the end of the first day, the person should be able to check off a bunch of items. This allows new employees to have a feeling of accomplishment as early as day one.
The Skills Verification ChecklistWould you like to know how much your trade workers know before you send them into the field? Or do you prefer to be surprised?
A skills verification checklist needs to be provided in advance of sending new employees into the field. Detail all the tasks required to operate your tools and equipment, perform installations and comply with safe operating procedures. Supervisors can check off the skills as they observe them being performed correctly. Such a checklist is particularly useful for new hires enrolled in on-site training classes.
Golden RulesEarly on in the orientation phase it is important to set the criteria under which your company operates. These define certain behaviors that you insist on and refuse to negotiate. Violations are cause for termination.
These “golden rules” must be rock-solid, clearly defined behaviors. For instance, “perform all jobs in a workmanlike manner” cannot be a golden rule, because “workmanlike” is subject to interpretation. You must be more specific in spelling out precisely what is expected.
Examples of potential golden rules might include:
• Must wear designated safety gear at all times while working at a jobsite.
• Must show up on time for work when required on a regular basis. More than one incident of unexcused tardiness is cause for dismissal.
• If absence or lateness is unavoidable, must notify supervisor in advance as soon as possible.
• Must obey all traffic laws when driving company vehicles.
• Absolutely no alcohol can be consumed within 8 hours of driving a company vehicle.
• Smoking is prohibited inside company facilities and vehicles.
• Must wear company uniforms while on duty.
• Must be willing to perform work other than what you were hired to do if asked by your supervisor.
These are just examples of potential golden rules. I’m not suggesting you adopt all of them. Some may not be right for your company.
So why not take five minutes and come up with five golden rules of your own. Write up your golden rules as clearly defined behaviors. Make sure that they are not so vague that you couldn’t easily hold someone accountable for them. Your list of golden rules should be small enough so that you are able to hold your employees accountable for all of them without failure.
One important piece of advice: Do not put it on your list unless you are willing to terminate someone for noncompliance.
Here are five guidelines for implementing your golden rules:
1. Implement your golden rules one at a time.
2. Introduce the first one in a formal meeting, and communicate its importance to your employees.
3. Explain its value to both the customer and the company, and put it in writing.
4. Make it clear that noncompliance is not acceptable, and let them know the consequences.
5. Once you have successfully implemented the first one, move on to the second, and so on.
Many owners and managers refuse to enforce company rules because they’re afraid employees will quit. This makes you a hostage!
You must refuse to be held hostage in your own company. By enforcing your golden rules, you will be able to hire and build and effective work force of people who are willing to be held accountable to your guidelines.