Tag Archives: Jane Perdue

Why onboarding is vital


And why probationary periods are Ok
So you’ve  created a winning resume,  negotiated any number of telephone screenings, sailed through all the face to face interviews, maybe even  aced the behavioral tests.  Finally you are opening that coveted offer letter.   Your heart races as you realise you’ve landed a great job, maybe a salary increase and fantastic future career opportunities.

But one phrase stands out, casting  a dark shadow over a great moment  ” subject to the satisfactory completion of a x month probationary period”   

What does this mean?
This pretty much means what it says. Before your contract will be definitively confirmed,  you need to successfully complete a x month trial period. Does this mean that you will be giving up a job for a position that isn’t necessarily secure?  Well, yes actually it does.

But before you get into a flat spin let’s take a closer look. Hiring companies invest thousands of dollars/euros/pounds in a selection process.   There will also be an impact on revenue during the period the position is open and in any subsequent onboarding  process which can take up to a year.  The company want you to hit peak efficiency as early as possible and should be doing everything they can to make sure that happens.

According to research by the Wynhurst Group ,  new employees who go through a structured on-boarding programme are  58% more likely to be with the organization after three years and the cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times their salary.

Worst case scenario
So no one wants you to leave!  You will also have left a job and  probably don’t fancy the idea of unemployment appearing in  your  short-term future. So both parties are heavily invested in making sure that the appointment and transition period are successful.

What is being catered for is a worst case scenario which allows all involved an easier exit strategy with a specified notice period. It is usually more about cultural and team fit than core competencies, those indefinable and intangible things that come about when people interact with each other in any relationship or organisation. It’s a bit like dating – without being dumped overnight.

What is onboarding  ?
Wally Bock suggests  somewhat cynically that  the term onboarding  has been  made up by people  ”  ..who revel in jargon…. it means many different things to different people  …who have different ideas about where it starts and ends and what is and isn’t included  ..”

That’s certainly true.  Essentially it is the process that will accelerate the new employee’s learning curve and increase the chances of early effectiveness and productivity for the new hire and also reduce the possibility of early attrition ( biz speak for you resigning). Where it starts and finishes will vary from one organisation to another and  for some companies includes the interviewing and hiring process.  On arrival the new appointee should be given detailed information not only about the location of the coffee machine,  stationery cabinet and the position they’ve just accepted, but also key company information,  as well as insights into corporate culture, ethics and vision.

Jane Perdue,  CEO of the Braithwaite Group told me that in her corporate HR days,  programmes could last 1 week or 6 months depending on the level of the position  “ the perspective was to teach culture, process, procedure and not let the water cooler conversations be the only introduction that new folks receive.”

Hiring phase
In an ideal world employers will have covered many of the issues that  could result in early attrition in the pre-offer stage, through clear and open communication to avoid any surprises, or worse still, shocks.  At the point of making an offer , the hiring management team should have examined the fit of the new appointee,   not just with the profile, but with the new boss and the existing team.  Plans should have been made to fill any anticipated  skill set gaps.

The existing team
The arrival of a new team member or even boss, also causes the existing team members to be in transition, so any impact on that dynamic should also be appraised. Any anticipated repercussions both positive and negative have to be factored in. This is a bit like bringing a new baby home! Some ” family ” members will adapt quickly, others may take longer and sometimes some members may not like the fact that the “baby” is there at all and react badly. Ideally contingency plans will be in place and the situation reviewed regularly, so that early steps can be taken to resolve any issues.

So what should be clear to both parties?

  •  A job description should exist with defined, achievable goals.
  •  The review method should be stated and transparent with regular review periods and clear feedback.
  •  Reporting lines should be outlined and all parties involved in the review process will be clear.
  • Methods of preferred communication should be made clear. If there is  a flat, open door,  informal culture then new hires need to know that. If the line mangers prefer written reports and formally scheduled interviews that needs to be clear too.
  • A mentoring structure should exist either internally or through the provision of an external coach.
  • Provision should be made to cover any periods of sickness.

Wally adds sagely ” We know that their first impressions of our shop are going to be important and lasting. So we want to make the process of getting hired, joining the company, and becoming a productive member of it as effective and seamless as possible. I just don’t know what parts of that constitute “onboarding”

Possibly all of it!  A successful onboarding process should provide an opportunity to align the expectations of all the players for the best possible outcome for all concerned.

Everyone should be happy! Right?

Bitch or Bully: The Pink Elephant

Part I of 5 in my series on bullying by women in the work place.

I am exploring a number of complex and often confusingly over lapping issues. I have consulted a global network of HR professionals, lawyers, bullying specialists, psychologists as well as executive coaches and leaders. I have also heard from ” targets”  themselves.

When does bitchiness, strong or bad management cross the line into workplace bullying?

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a client. I’ll call her Jane. She was struggling to have a successful and equable working relationship with her new boss of 9 months. Her husband thought she needed to ” step up , toughen up and be more assertive”. Whatever was going on was impacting her negatively. She felt she was wearing the departmental scarlet letter, sleeping badly, starting to dread going into work and feeling distanced from her colleagues.

Not only did she feel that she was being singled out for exceptional treatment, but that she was being openly bullied . What had surprised Jane the most in the whole process was that her new boss was a woman.

A can of worms
For me this opened a mental can of worms. What exactly is bullying? Did I really know? When does strong management and bitchiness cross the line into tyranny? How prevalent is the issue of bullying by women? Do we really sweep it under the carpet? Is this issue the pink elephant in our sitting rooms that we don’t talk about?

In my own career I have worked in environments where I have witnessed bullying of the most appalling nature both physical and psychological, so I thought I knew what it was. In one extreme case it led to a complete nervous breakdown, in the other chronic depression leading to heavy drinking and marital breakdown. I have a family member who actually received a written death threat from a senior manager. In many of our minds it’s associated with raging, verbal and physical abuse, Machiavellian sabotaging and back stabbing. I have never been in a situation where the perpetrator was a woman. So where are all those soft skills, empathy and high EQ that we are supposed to have and read about?

Jane’s story :

  • she was  singled out for public criticism about her work and appearance
  • she was regularly called into bosses office at 17.20 to be given additional work with tight deadlines
  • she was excluded from email circulation lists and meetings
  • the only person in the department not invited to a social event at boss’ house
  •  attempts to discuss had been dismissed with contempt
  •  The HR department would only get involved if a formal complaint was made

So what is bullying really?
Annabel Kay of Irenicon offers this legal input about the UK legal system ” Interestingly at the moment there is no actual legal definition in terms of a statute defining it, the ACAS code and case law provide a guide (common law) – but that is it. “

Another lawyer in the US confirmed this ” although harassment has a clear legal definition, bullying does not, only guidelines”.

Jane Perdue suggests that ” Bullying is behavioral based actions that repeatedly humiliate, intimidate, frighten, offend someone, making them feel defenseless, particularly coming from a person in position of authority or with much influence . Acts/behaviors can be overt or covert such as personal attacks or social ostracism. In my view bitchiness crosses the line when it’s repeated, takes on notes of intimidation & becomes a believable threat, particularly from a woman

Annabel goes on to add that “The real problem in dealing with bullying in the workplace is that by the time the ‘victim’ feels desperate enough to complain, they are in no fit state to endure the rigours of formal grievance hearings and appeals and possibly employment tribunals .”

A Poll
The New York Times says that today 70% of cases of women reporting being bullied was by other women. This seemed incredibly high and feeling loyal to the sisterhood, I decided to conduct my own poll on LinkedIn. Have you ever been bullied in the workplace by a woman? Please take a few seconds to participate and read the results to date. It will be open until the end of the April.

Within 24 hours I had over 100 responses and my mail box flooded with stories, insights and perceptions, too many to cover here on the whole issue of female bullying.

In the meantime I am going to collate all the comments and feedback. I have invited leadership specialists, HR practitioners and communication experts to contribute their views over the next few weeks. Here are just a few of your thoughts that have been tossed out to me:

  • If someone feels bullied – does that mean they are, or just being sensitive?
  • When does strong or tough management cross the line into intimidation?
  • Do women feel they have to act like men in, or en route, to leadership positions?
  • Do reports expect female managers to behave differently?
  • Why do women sabotage other women?
  • Are women easier to bully than men?
  • What should the role of HR be in dealing with issues such as this?
  • When does passivity become enabling?

In case you think I’ve forgotten about Jane, this process is ongoing.

What do you think? Workplace bitch or bully? Or are they one and the same?

Part 2: The Lipstick Jungle: Female Saboteurs 

Part 3:  The Mascara Mafia   

Part 4: The Petticoat Polemic: the role of the organisation

Part 5: Whatever happened to Jane?