When you’ve got key talent joining your organization, there are steps you can take to ensure that they experience a smooth transition. Peyton Manning has the intrinsic ability to join a new team, become a part of it and lead. While he’s not the coach, he acts as the backbone of the team and delivers (excluding Super Bowl 2014, we aren’t even going to talk about that) on whatever turf he’s on.

The world is not full of Peyton Mannings. He is the exception, not the rule. Superstar talent often has a hard time transitioning. Recruiters and hiring managers must always work with these new employees to ensure engagement, retention and immediate productivity. Since 22% of turnovers occur within the first 45 days on the job, it is important to create an employee/organization bond from the start.

Prep the team.

It can be tougher when a star player joins the team a little later on in the game. The other teammates can be left feeling like the new employee skipped a few spots and went straight to team captain. Very often, leaders work their way up in a company; they’ve created bonds and established their credibility already. When a Manning joins the team, it is important that everyone is on board, and there is a thoughtful process in place to make this a smooth transition for everyone.

Excitement is just as contagious as negativity. People are generally not comfortable with change, so it is best to frame this transition with excitement. This sets the tone for a positive greeting. When the entire team is excited about a new addition, cohesion is far more likely to happen faster, and bonds in the workplace are vital. 18% of survey respondents said that making friends is one of their top concerns when switching jobs.

Give them a playbook.

Sure, they’re great at what they do, but they may not have dealt with the same tools, processes and certainly not the same people. If there isn’t a formal onboarding process in place, create one. Companies who don’t have onboarding plans or programs have a 50% failure rate in retaining talent. The hire up the ladder you go, the more costly that failure rate becomes. The new guy should know from day one what is expected of them and what they can expect from their team.

Easing a new employee into productivity doesn’t do anyone any favors. They don’t want to sit at a desk wondering when the work is going to start, and their team certainly doesn’t want that either. If the first day is designated time for them to read the employee handbook, your onboarding process sucks. Have actionable items on the agenda from day one. Even if it is just taking them around, introducing them and briefing them on their first task.

Offer ongoing training as well as cross-training.

No one has ever referred to a stagnant worker whose skills never evolve as “Superstar Talent”. The kind of employees who drive success are the kind who take pride in learning new skills and improving upon their existing talents. A Paycom infographic states that 41% of of employees at companies with inadequate training programs plan to leave within the first year.

Obviously, initial training will be needed to get the new recruit up and running, but ongoing training keeps them stimulated, growing and engaged. Learning management systems help with all facets of training, from the onboarding process, to continued learning.

Encouraging your higher-ups to cross-train creates a stimulating work environment. They are able to break out of their traditional roles and feel free to discover different parts of the organization.

Value your players by offering a chance for growth.

They came from somewhere right? Most likely somewhere they weren’t happy, and decided to take their talents to you.  A leading factor in turnover is lack of upward mobility or career planning. Especially when we’re talking about key players, they need to feel as though they not only have a place in the company’s future, but a better place in that future. Furthermore, you will never get the extra mile out of an employee who has no incentive to give it. When you want to keep employees around and happy, they must be given an attainable goal to work towards.

Know when to bench them.

It’s tough when a company fully embraces a new player in the team and invests so much of their resources, only to find out that it isn’t going to work. Don’t let a new employees’ prestige or reputation do all the talking. If they aren’t delivering, be sure to know when to cut your losses.

Welcoming a new player to the team should always be an exciting time, complete with the proper preparation. However, the higher caliber the employee, the more work should be put into their successful transfer. The costs associated with hiring top talent should be safeguarded with a proper welcome to the team. Check out our main blog here.

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Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 18, 2014 at 12:46pm
Awesome post Sean! Since I made the move from agency to inhouse, I have been more involved with onboarding than ever before. It is amazing how important both having a play book and framing things with emphasis on excitement can impact welcoming a new 'superstar'. I have seen first hand both how this can go favorably, and also go less than desired. The latter is always a learning experience. I appreciate you sharing this with the RBC.
Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 18, 2014 at 4:45pm

Thanks, Sean. Good points here.

I'd like to raise a couple of my own:

1) Most companies are deluding themselves to think that they could realistically hire any kind of superstar, except by accident. They have nothing exceptional to offer the exceptional.

2) While having efficient onboarding, engagement, and retention are good in an ideal world, or internal and contract recruiters they are threats to OUR retention. As long as the company can still afford to pay us, it's better for us when they have high-churn than when things are stable and people stay around for a long time. It's a fool's errand to try and fill a full cup, but there's job security in trying to fill a sieve!


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