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The Employee Life Cycle (part 1 of 4)

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There is an employee life cycle that all employees travel through while employed at a job. This cycle can last for decades, years, or even days. It is the path every individual while being employed takes. Inside this cycle each person is at a different place at a different time. It is important to note that not all people are the same and they will not be at the same place at the same time. The interesting part is the employee life cycle is not held to just hourly employees. If you are a manager or a leader you are working inside this cycle also. Although it is not on a piece of paper in an employee training manual and not in the forefront of a leaders mind while looking at their staff, it is important to understand where they are. The employees success and happiness revolves around how well managers and leaders help employees inside the cycle. When an individual does not "make it" or "leaves" an organization, the reasoning can be observed in one of the four parts to the employee life cycle. The cycle consists of Hire, Train, Lead, and Support:

Think back when you first started hiring employees in your career:

  • Were they the right hires? Most people can think of situations where we did not hire the right candidate for the job. This is a tough one and we will get in to it more later on.
  • Were they trained correctly? Having the best manuals is only a start to training someone well.
  • Were they led well? For an employee to stay engaged and challenged they need a leader who will give the direction that is needed along the way.
  • Did they receive the proper level of support? As managers and leaders during the day to day operations we are challenged with not only keep schedules and projects and tasks, but also support those above us, beside us and those we are responsible for.

Over the next couple of months we will dig a little deeper into the cycle.

The first phase of an employee's life cycle is Hire. Although it seems simple enough, it is not. Hiring the right candidate is one of the most important pieces of the employee life cycle. Hire the wrong person and the cycle will be short. Once we have hired a new employee, it is time to train. Training is the next step of the employee life cycle. This is the step for an employee to really get a feel for the organization. (We will discuss hiring later.)

It is said that the first 48hours at a job will dictate the success, attitude, and even longevity of the individual's employment at that job. In my work at restaurants, more employees would leave their job in the first 5 days of training than anywhere else. This was largely the case with line cooks. Being a line cook at a corporate restaurant is a grueling dirty difficult job. It was not uncommon to walk into the office and hear the grumblings of managers around the dismay of the employee not working out. The manager's statement would inevitably start with "they interviewed so well" I do not know what happened. With the managers there was the thought that they were in the door and somehow the managers had completed the job. In truth the first 48 hours of training are crucial. If the employee feels disconnected, they will probably not stay. Think back to when you started your job, as a beginner there were many thoughts that went through your mind. Some of thoughts were of excitement about what lies ahead and maybe even some were of the "What did I do?" nature. Early in my career as a restaurant manager I took a job with a corporate bakery/café shop. When I accepted the job, it was a step up in promotion. After extensive background checks and paper work I gave my notice of resignation for my current position later on that week. I received a phone call late on Friday afternoon. The gentleman on the other line was the director with the new organization, he explained there had been some miscommunication and was wondering if I could start the baking overnight training the following Monday. Not wanting to start off on the wrong foot, I agreed and figured it would be a long three weeks until I finished my previous job, but it was for a good reason. The following Monday came and after working all day in one restaurant, I went home to change clothes unsure of what to wear to the café I went to work. When I arrived at the café I found the front doors locked and there was loud music playing inside. After several minutes of banging on the windows and calling the café a young man came to the door and let me in, after a brief introduction he informed me that he had no idea why I was there and told me he went to work 4 hours early and was almost done. He continued to make jokes about the company and laughed and wished me luck. Needless to say my career at the café was very short. This initial impression made me question my career move and I quickly left the organization. When you think of an organization's training, there are four important pieces to their training program.

Orientation:

The orientation is a great opportunity to let the new employee understand the organization and for the organization to understand the new employee. (Example: The new line cook in our restaurant would attend an orientation that was four hours long around policies, procedures and everything in between. In most cases you can see the excitement of the employee as they left the orientation.) The orientation is a key piece in any training program. It can give direction to the new employee as well as answer any question they might have before they began. In most case it this first impression can make or break the rest of the training.

Training programs:

The training program is very important for consistency and also standards. No two people are trained the same way and no two employees will learn the same way. Having a detailed training program will allow the individuals that are training to ensure every piece of it is being accomplished on the individual basis. The training program should be fluid and moving to the needs of the individual being trained. The dedicated training program guarantees all employees have the correct knowledge and material to be successful at their job. This also ensures consistency in the work that is being performed. This is the start to the image the new employee will have around the organization they now work for. If the café had such a system, the outcome might have been different.

Dedicated trainers:

Having individuals committed to the development of a new employee is crucial to the success of everyone involved. If the new employee works with any person on any day of training, there is not only frustration from the new employee as well as the trainer. Training is a lofty commitment which takes a great deal of time money and perseverance from the people inside the organization. By having dedicated trainers the group knows where the new employee is and what they need to focus on in that day. There will be a connection from employee to new trainer. (One of the biggest challenges in the restaurant was to begin a busy Saturday night and see a new employee on his second day of training look at a manager and ask where he should be. After some running around the manager will introduce them to another employee and tell them to train. I can hear the line cooks response, "What do you know how to do?" As you can imagine it very rarely worked out quite the way you would hope. There would be stress and frustration on both party's parts and it would be quite understandable.)

Mentors:

Once the new employee makes it through the grueling process of interviewing, orientation and training it is often helpful to have a mentor to help along the way. A mentor is someone that they can relate to, ask questions, and receive feedback if necessary. (In the case of the restaurant once a new line cook was trained it became a lesson on fend for yourself. You would hear comments like, "He received five days of training, so why doesn’t he get it?" When a mentor was introduced to the line cook (usually someone who helped train) the outcome was dramatically different. It allows the employee a level of comfort.)

My daughter recently decided she wanted to play ice hockey. After the initial thoughts of fear and excitement, I researched local hockey programs and signed her up. The program she enrolled in is a first step program for children who want to play hockey. Before the first day, I received in the mail an introduction letter with a checklist. The check list was for the parents before the initial day on the ice. The list included what equipment they would need all the way to directions for the first practice. As the first day approached I received a phone call from a very polite lady looking for my daughter, Hannah. As I watched my daughter talk on the phone she smiled and giggled and thanked the lady on the phone and handed the phone back to me. As I spoke with the individual on the other end she explained to me she was calling Hannah and me to welcome us to the program and the club. She wanted to connect with us and answer any questions we might have. Once we arrived at the arena there were people from the club welcoming us and helping us along the way, as the week's progress we receive emails and follow ups from the program coaches and directors. In the second week of the program they introduced older more experienced players to the group. The players are on the ice to help all the new hockey players with skills they might need extra help with.

The program above has followed the model of training, and my daughter is in love with hockey. She has fun seems comfortable playing and knows what to expect each day she goes. In all practical measures the organization has guaranteed her involvement for years to come.

Above is a brief overview of training in an employee life cycle. We will talk next month about leading, not only new, but existing employees through the cycle. If you have any thoughts or questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with me, and I hope you enjoyed the reading!

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craig

Craig Twombly
Priority Learning
Facilitator


Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.

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