A new employee’s first day(s) at the office can 1) confirm their feeling that they’ve made the right choice coming to work for you, or 2) make them wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake.

Needless to say, your chance of keeping the new person beyond the first few months goes up when their earliest days with the organization correspond to experience No. 1. So do the odds that the new hire will become fully engaged with your mission.

So what exactly goes into a good first day or three?

New hires need two big things from the onboarding process:

  • To feel as comfortable as possible, as soon as possible, and
  • To make progress in decoding the complex mix of values, procedures, customs, habits and jargon that makes up an organization’s culture.

The right space

Part of the “feeling comfortable” piece, of course, is a new hire’s impression that the employer has prepared an attractive, well-equipped work space for him or her. (read more…)

All organizations have social impact — good or bad, intended or not.

Social impact is the logical consequence of an organization’s plans, decisions, and actions on the social and economic lives of employees, customers, and their communities.

Such consequences might be direct or indirect, immediate or long term. Most organizations are unaware of their social impact and, therefore, invest little time or energy in appraising it.

To understand social impact, let’s look at an organization’s first and primary customers: their employees.

If an employee’s hourly wage goes up a nickel or five pence, there are benefits to the employee, the employee’s family, and the employee’s neighborhood. That wage boost might enable that employee to take his or her family out to dinner one night a month. That outing boosts family member’s satisfaction, possibly boosts their nutrition, and brings business to a local restaurant.

If an employee’s hourly wage goes up a dollar or a euro, the benefits to the employee, family, and neighborhood are typically greater – and more longer lasting. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How prevalent is the use of buzzwords in your organization

  • Extremely — it seems like everything we say is a buzzword: 25.69%
  • Very — buzzwords creep into normal conversations: 40.39%
  • Somewhat — the occasional buzzword gets thrown around: 27.06%
  • Not at all — we rarely use buzzwords: 6.86%

Words with no meaning. Sure, buzzwords sound great but they get in the way of communicating clearly. At worst, using buzzwords makes you sound silly or arrogant. If you want to get your point across, speak simply and directly. Leave no room for interpretation. There are some horrible phrases we tend to use and the worst of those buzzwords can make us sound ridiculous. Find better alternatives. Your team will appreciate it and you’ll make a much better impression upon those around you. (read more…)

As the saying goes, “Timing is everything.” Someone at Microsoft should tell the big boss. It seems to me that Satya Nadella, the new CEO at Microsoft as of February, has been let down by his PR people in the communications of the last two weeks. The order of announcements could not have been worse.

In an e-mail to employees (July 10) about an evolving culture at Microsoft, Nadella talked of “Bold Ambition and Our Core“ and outlined what the company has to do to get its mojo back. One week later (July 17), he announced a layoff of 18,000 employees. Talk about a letdown. My take on the two messages: “I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll give the good news first: Microsoft is going to be a lean, mean fighting machine. The bad news: Many of you will not be a part of it.”

There are at least two problems with these announcements, but let me first say I have no problem with the decision to eliminate jobs. (read more…)

A decade ago, the skill set of the HR leader was defined by the classic 80/20 rule: 80% HR administration, 20% business. Today, this rule has been overturned. A company’s HR executive is a critical component of the leadership team. CEOs are increasingly pulling HR professionals to the leadership table, asking them to play a more strategic role and requiring that they have a firm understanding of the business and its long-term goals.

This trend speaks to the changing nature of the HR leadership function across industries. Businesses are becoming more attuned to the importance of internal culture to recruit and retain talent, and, consequently, HR leaders must serve as the CEO’s business partner and align their talent-development strategy with overall business imperatives. As HR professionals participate in organization-wide decisions, they’re required to more fully understand the business and think beyond the bounds of what would traditionally be considered “HR territory.”

If CEOs want to see their businesses thrive, they need to ensure that they have the right partner in the HR leadership role. (read more…)