The early years of one’s career lays the foundation for the later stages in terms of advancements and gaining stability and a foothold in the organisation.
Typically during the first few months of a fresh graduate’s working life, the workforce entrant is constantly evaluating the choice of the decision to join that particular organisation and by the end of the confirmation period, entrants typically make up their minds whether to move on or to stay to contribute.
Moving from a school environment into the workforce is by itself a huge learning curve. There are courses offered in universities on etiquette and organisational behaviour just to help graduates ease themselves into a new life. After all, that is what the higher education institution is supposed to do, besides preparing students in skills and knowledge.
Most disappointments occur when there is a gap between expectations of the job and the actual job situation (or what we term as “job quality”) and the organisation would find it challenging to meet those expectations, especially in terms of working hours flexibility, and job loading. While managing such expectations can sometimes be a HR nightmare, both the organisation and the new recruit has to come to a meeting point. Managers have to help new recruits bring themselves down from the clouds of lofty dreams to understand the realities of the mobility and career aspirations.
Turnover at this part of the organisation is typically high because of this gap of unrealised expectations and realities. To counter this, managers should engage recruits with these approaches:
1. At the hiring stage, design questions to filter out misfits by spelling out the organisational culture and expectations. Certain candidates may attempt to plough their way through as they would very much like to get into the job proper, and although questions and interviews may not be able to fully filter out and distinguish the “fish from the dragon”, it is still necessary to set filters in place.
2. The decision making should not be based on results alone. The school results simply tell you that the individual is able to grasp and do well in school. The rigor of the school system simply reinforces certain learning modes but is not able to fully capture the most apt executives. Simply put, grades do not make an executive. Which is also one reason why some of my friends who are in the capacity to hire people simply put aside those who have “first class” honors and use the “second class upper” criteria to gauge the “recruit-ability” of their candidates.
3. Designing effective orientation and training programs that will keep recruits engaged for the first year. Ease them into work, having the expectation for new entrants to high the ground running fast may be somewhat unrealistic. Manage your expectations in this regard.
4. Make use of opportunities to get existing team members to socialise recruits into the company. Lunches, functions, birthday/tea parties should have the objective of getting people to meet and talk, gain acceptance, etc. observations during such parties can give an idea of how this particular recruit is responding to the organisational culture.
5. High-potential employees or those who are given more challenging (stretch) assignments typically become successful in their careers. Studies by scholars have shown for e.g., that executives who have been given stretch assignments during their first eight years typically soar to higher levels in their companies in the first 20 years of their career. Studies also show that success (in that, we mean mobility or progression) in the early years of one’s career is critical. With little progression in place in the early stages, one’s career is typically considered “dead”.
The truth of the matter is that those who are in decision making processes for promotions often operate in bounded rationality. That is why personal contacts, spheres of influence, add up a great deal to promotional aspects. Track records and familiarities with the individual typically contribute to the decision.
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