On my recent trip to the Nexus Africa conference in Johannesburg, I found my first intriguing lesson in the time spent with my host family. I was welcomed into the home of Ivan and Yolande Overton, founders of ChangeWright Consulting, and their three-year-old son Mathew.
I was struck by how comfortable they made me feel – nearly like family. They invited me to make myself at home which included foraging for late night snacks, taking a nap in the middle of their living room and playing with Matthew and his minitiature cars like I was actually the Uncle he called me (or at least that’s what he said in Afrikaans I was told by his parents).
I’m thinking about what “hosting” look like in organizations? How are new employees welcomed in your organization? If the basics are done well, there’s an orientation session. In the best organizations you’ll get training for your job. While I’m not suggesting that you should be invited to take a nap in the middle of the company conference room, I am suggesting that there is a level of civility, of quickly bringing someone into the culture that differentiates one organization from another. It raises questions of who you are as an organization, the experience your employees have of working there and how you want to position yourself in the employment marketplace. What would the specifics look like in a “well hosted” organization?
First you would have people taking a genuine interest in your needs, even predicting them. When someone comes to stay at your home there is no surprise about what they will need: towels, clean bedding, dinner and interesting conversation. When someone enters your organization they could be assigned a mentor, someone to answer questions, introduce them to others, and make you “feel at home” beyond the welcome packet. Retention statistics, “Best Place to Work” surveys, and our own experiences prove the value of this. Relationships are the glue of any organization. Exit interviews are popular, even a requirement in today’s organizations. Their purpose is to shed light on why people are leaving in hopes of uncovering something actionable that will keep the next person from leaving. How about we do entry interviews? Find out not only why people joined your organization but also how their early days have gone. What could be done to improve their entry process? What could be done to make them feel more at home? And if they were more at home would they be able to get started working productively sooner? I think so. What do you think?