Five Phases for a New Employee

Written by: Alan Rodway

Five Phases for a New employee

When businesses appoint someone into a new role, either from the outside or internally, there are five observable phases the person can move through for them to become highly effective.

First, it is important to have an understanding of these phases to help make the process effective and to ensure that the appointee moves through them as quickly as possible. Second, the phases may be intertwined rather than just occurring chronologically but there are usually aspects of each that do occur in a time sequence.

The five phases are:

  • Trust: This is where the appointee and the business establishes trust, across all parties. This means between the business and the appointee if it is someone from outside the business, between manager and direct report, between people within teams, between teams, with other colleagues and even trust of the product being produced (especially if it’s a person from outside the business). It will be noticeable that the appointee is looking for signs and behaviours that can enable their trust. They will attempt to do the job well, try to sensibly impress others and to get to know what they should, but it will be obvious that they are weighing up what and who they can trust. Some people will throw themselves in before they trust and others won’t. The business itself will take the same approach, encouraging and providing what it should but, again, until trust of the appointee is significant some things will be held back (deliberately or subconsciously) until that occurs. It is important to recognize and understand this phase so that performance is assessed in appropriate light. Behaviours on both sides will alter once trust is established. If, however, trust is not established at a high enough level then performance from both parties will never heighten and a decision should be made on the move forward. 
  • Buy in (emotionally): Once sufficient trust is established then genuine buy in to the business, its purpose and the role can occur. That means the appointee (subconsciously) will decide to really get going with what they are there for. They will become more professionally curious about the business and how it goes about things, and they are more likely to challenge in sincere ways rather than just being inquisitive. This is clearly a strong sign of commitment to a future in the role with the business. The appointee will care more about reactions to their questions, suggestions and challenges they put up than when they were in the first phase. 
  • Management: The appointee will move deeper and broader into managing people and situations now that they have trust and have bought in. A side but related point is that most people will engage a mix of skill and emotion in how they manage. The fact that trust and buy in now exists often causes the emotional side of behaviours to be stronger than previously and the appointee can benefit from coaching to ensure the mix is effective. 
  • Change: In this phase the appointee will want to create (significant) change. That’s a good thing per se … improvement doesn’t come from leaving things alone. This phase has to be very skilfully managed because if the appointee feels (justifiably or not) that the changes they are trying to make are being met with unjustifiable resistance that will cause a problem for them and send them back to phase 1 contemplating what they can trust, etc. The thrust for change must be welcomed but in ways that encourages the appointee to be discerning in what, how and when. 
  • Creation: This is where the appointee moves into putting forward new ideas and thoughts on innovation, having learnt about the business, its purpose, its people and the market. Obviously and importantly, if the appointee does not make it through the previous four phases these thoughts are not likely to be put forward and everyone will lose significant potential benefit of the appointment. It is all very well to think that it is the appointee’s responsibility to get to this phase but the business has an equal responsibility. It stands to reason that if a person has trust, has bought in, has moved past just managing, has genuinely attempted to change some things, then they are way more likely to try to create a better future with business by coming up with ideas and ways to innovate.

It should be obvious why an understanding of these phases is very important to helping an appointee move through them … to get the best for and with them. To simply put someone into a new role (either from outside the business or from internally) and not to help facilitate all of these phases would be to the detriment of all parties. The biggest part of this is to be aware of the phases and to ensure that people are behaving in ways that actively encourage the appointee to move through to phase 5 as quickly and effectively as possible. The best performers in any business are those who trust, are trusted, buy in to the purposes of the business, manage well, create change and suggest new things for the future. That won’t all happen without acute awareness and skilful intervention when and how is necessary.

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