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8 Strategies to Keep New Employees Productive and Engaged

The Manager's Handbook: Solutions to your everyday workplace problems
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Human Resources

8 strategies to keep new employees productive and engaged

When employees quit shortly after being hired, the departure is a gut punch to productivity and adds unnecessary costs. Plus, it can send unsettling shock waves to employees.

Managers set the foundation for good employee relationships during the hiring process and in those first weeks on the job.

No one said it would be easy, but does managing have to be so darned hard? The Manager's Handbook: Solutions to the 8 main management headaches.

Here are tips to keep newbies onboard, productive and engaged:

When you're hiring

Find out what the applicant really wants and needs. Don't focus exclusively on what candidates can do, and even less on what they have done. Ask questions that will help you learn more about how you might work with them as individuals.

Tell the applicant who you really are. Give applicants an idea of what kind of boss you are and how you operate as a leader and manager.

Explain the organization's climate and culture. There's no advantage to painting an unrealistically rosy picture to entice a promising candidate. Tell applicants why you like your job and working with this team. Talk about why your team members have chosen to stay and grow. Be positive, but honest.

Cover the basics to avoid surprises. For example, it's important that you show applicants samples of the work they would actually be doing if they're hired. They should also see the work area and meet some of their prospective co-workers.

After you hire

Make sure new employees are well-launched. The first few weeks are crucial. Look for areas where further orientation or training is needed. Be alert to problems employees may have in adjusting to a new environment or schedule. It's important that new employees feel they're doing as well as they can, so be especially diplomatic in pointing out errors or mistakes.

Work at keeping in touch. Lay the foundation of your relationship by being available to help or just to listen. New employees may not seek you out, so find ways for your paths to cross. Informal get-togethers with the team can help.

Recognize accomplishments. New employees are especially eager to know how their work is being evaluated. Praise and feedback are doubly important at the beginning.

Encourage initiative and new ideas. One reason good employees leave, aside from lack of appreciation, is that they feel little or no opportunity to try out new ideas, learn new skills or experiment with new procedures. When you open up these possibilities, you'll increase your chances of keeping employees interested for years to come.

If only there were one resource for help with your everyday management issues. A resource with no lofty theories ... no buzzwords ... just practical advice that helps you get the job done while staying out of legal trouble. Now that resource is here: The Manager's Handbook: 104 Solutions to Your Everyday Workplace Problems.

Be the main source of information about the enterprise. Employees expect you to relay to them vital information about changes in policies and procedures that will directly affect them.

Show a willingness to work things out. No work situation is ever completely free of conflict. That's beyond your control. But you can work toward limiting conflict and tensions in your area. Your people always notice and judge how you handle problems. Make sure your actions demonstrate that you're aware of what's happening in your area, that you're consistent and fair.

People rarely leave their jobs unannounced. They may not use words, but in one way or another, they typically signal their intention to leave. Watch for these key indicators, then be ready to sit down with the employee to discuss future work plans.

1. A shift in attitude. Employees who have decided they are "short-timers" may take on a devil-may-care attitude and show less concern about long-term matters.

2. Clamped-down communication. In trying to conceal one thing—a job hunt, or a better offer—employees often cut back on how much they talk about everything.

3. More frequent absences. A sudden change in a long-term attendance pattern—especially a change marked by morning, afternoon or lunchtime absences—may signal that an employee has scheduled daytime interviews.

4. Improvement in grooming or dress. There's nothing wrong with employees improving their appearance. But if they arrive unusually well-dressed and take off part of the day, they may have an appointment where they're trying to make a good impression—perhaps on a potential new boss.

5. Major life change. Whether it's a new baby, marriage or divorce, big moments in life can also serve as a precursor to job hopping.

The 104 solutions in The Manager's Handbook are conveniently divided into 8 sections, each a mini-handbook on its own. At the end of each, you can take a self-assessment quiz to test your management skills on these topics.

1. Communication Skills—from earning employees' trust to inspiring healthy conflict

2. Coaching & Motivating—a key to ensuring MVPs keep playing on your team

3. Discipline & Termination—how to be fair but firm, and stay out of court

The Manager's Handbook4. Employee Performance—how to get your people to meet your expectations (or exceed them)

5. Hiring & Interviewing—everything from how to spot liars to measuring the results of your decisions

6. Leading Teams—better brainstorming, avoiding bossy know-it-all remarks, knowing when to step back and let self-managing teams thrive, and much more

7. Management Skills—from the top 10 manager mistakes to 11 tips for hosting meetings that inspire your people

8. Legal Risks—the must-have knowledge to help keep your company—and yourself—out of harm's way

Yes, I want to become a better manager!
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