Buster comes to his new home from the Humane Society. He is automatically programmed to either relate to his owners as parents or siblings. What do his owners do? They gush over him and talk to him in a high-pitched voice that sounds to Buster more like a sibling than someone responsible for him. When he gets excited, they allow him to jump, charge through doors, drag them down the street or claim privileges of higher rank. His position is set. He is in control. Buster outranks his owners.
What does this tell us about how leaders should indoctrinate new employees to their new environment?
One of the greatest challenges faced by organizations is providing a work environment and benefits that attract the best employees yet still create an expectation for what it is they want the person to do without fostering a culture of entitlement.
Leaders in organizations never intend to communicate that the comfort and personal equity of the employee takes priority over what it was they are tasked to do. Yet, what does the interview candidate or new employee think when the tour includes a visit to a state-of-the-art fitness facility, no formal dress code, game rooms, compensated meals, convenient flex hours, and optional educational programs. Add to this the promise of lavish bonuses when the company is profitable, regardless of individual contributions.
Is there a problem with companies seeking to create a state-of-the-art workplace and exemplary employee benefits?
No. The problem lies in the incomplete communication. There are many examples of organizations who offer their employees a unique and upscale work experience. Zappos and Disney are two examples. What they communicate, and many organizations fail to, are the expectations of the employees.
New Employee Orientation
Zappos provides a unique organizational culture that appeals to many individuals. They also spend several weeks in new employee orientation educating the new employee on the organization’s goals and the expectations of each employee. They are famous for “the offer”, which is a $3,000 take it or leave it offer to leave the organization after the company has outlined the expectations. Employees have the opportunity to publicly affirm that they are signing onto the expectations or they are walking.
Disney has a similarly intensive new employee orientation program that not only covers the many benefits of working for this prestigious organization but also describes the hardships employees encounter such as unattractive shifts, strict dress code and the requirement to be pleasant in every situation – even when you don’t feel like it.
In their attempt to sell the benefits of the company, organizations often fail to put performance expectations at the forefront and help the employee see that the many benefits are in exchange for top performance.
Like the new dog owner, the intentions of the organization are good. They are setting out to create a wonderful experience for the new employee in their new environment in the hopes that performance will follow. Instead, entitlement is the result.
What was the employee to think when this is the focus of the first day walk-through. We know how Buster responded. How is the new employee going to respond?
- Ro Crosbie is president of Tero International, a premier interpersonal skills and corporate training company.