Culture Change Starts with New Hires

Published On: November 11, 2020Categories: General Human Resources Articles

[Editor’s note: Today’s Culture Change Starts with New Hires blog post comes from Randy Hultz, SilkRoad Technology’s Sr. Director of Strategy and Transformation. Randy is Rival, formerly SilkRoad Technology‘s performance management evangelist.]

CHRO’s and other executives and thought leaders often identify a need or desire to introduce cultural change within their organization for various reasons. Thoughtful preparation, change management and targeted communication are often part of the efforts employed. In some cases, that investment of time and effort pays off. In other cases, cultural change barriers are seemingly impossible and the desired outcome simply cannot be achieved.

How should organizations lower internal barriers and drive needed cultural change?

Begin with your new hires and watch the desired change take root and grow throughout your organization over time. Start an evolution – not a revolution.

Roughly two decades ago, many organizations began experiencing a new phenomenon – recent graduates demanded a different employment experience than previous generations. They sought meaningful work, frequent performance feedback, development opportunities, work/life balance, etc. This generation was vocal in expressing their expectations. They also moved on to other opportunities at other organizations when those expectations were not met.

Experienced employees (and often their employers) initially were skeptical. ‘Welcome to the real world’ and ‘that’s not the way we work here’ were the initial reactions of many. What happened? It was the start of an evolution (some might say revolution) that drove cultural change. A change that was ultimately sustainable.

In recent months, every organization has experienced significant shifts in how we work and where we work. The mass shift to remote work has undoubtedly caused changes to organizational and team cultures. It ultimately means that we have to be more intentional about our interactions and culture to survive and thrive in the face of constant change. It’s also never been more critical for organizational change to align with strategy as it continually shifting in our current and likely, future environments.

Organizations can look at what started over 20 years ago for a model to successfully drive sustainable change to culture – start with your new hires. Take a fresh look at your new hire experience and use it to drive change over time strategically. Connecting new hires to their role and its impact on the organization allows new hires to map their day-to-day activities to corporate strategy. Fostering connections with pertinent stakeholders and buddies within the organization helps them understand how things get done and how business units or teams work together to accomplish goals. Providing frequent feedback and intentional check-ins are crucial to new hire productivity, success and longevity, whether a new hire starts in an onsite or remote location.

Go beyond the basic form completion, transactional approach and introduce one (or more) new element that supports a desired change to your culture.

Consider expanding the timeline of that experience beyond a few days or weeks so that you can continue to introduce new elements over time. Think about different infection points in the employee life cycle that impact the employee experience, such as promotions, transfers or family leave.

Some examples might include an early meeting between a new hire and their manager to set initial performance expectations and priorities, regular check-in meetings to discuss progress and changing priorities, introductory and continuing development activities, etc. For promotions, re-onboard employees with tasks pertinent to their new role, realign their goals and expectations, deliver targeted learning content and assign a new buddy or mentor to help employees through that transition.

Even small elements add up over time and eventually permeate culture as they are championed by new hires and observed, demanded and adopted by the rest of your organization. Starting with new hires can create momentum for cultural change. Continuous investment in the employee experience enables organizations to achieve higher levels of resilience and agility as the workforce is able to adapt to and endure change.