Work/Life Connections
July 20, 2018

Susie Lyons from VUMC Workforce Engagement highlights how to be successful at onboarding new employees, along with detailing the hallmarks of an effective manager.

Begin Transcript

Rosemary Cope:  Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Rosemary Cope with Work/Life Connections.  We are speaking today with Susie Lyons, who works with Workforce Engagement with the Vanderbilt Medical Center.  Susie has been with Vanderbilt for over 30 years and graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Healthcare Administration and Management.  For managers, your responsibility is to guide an entire team to success.  A study by Dale Carnegie Training revealed that nearly three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged at work.  Of those who are, the number one factor that contributes to employee engagement is their relationship with their immediate supervisor.  Susie, as a manager, what can one do to properly orient and welcome new staff members so that they feel included?

Susie Lyons:  One of the very first things that you want to do when you are welcoming a new staff member is to make sure that you are staying connected with them after the offer.  You want to send them an email, a welcome card from the department, or give them your cell number so that they know that you are preparing for them and that you are excited that they'll be joining your team.  Another thing to do is to celebrate.  You have worked hard to find the right person and bring in the person with the right talent and the best skills and someone who fits our culture.  Your team trusted you to do that and that's exactly what you've done, so you want to celebrate with your team.  One of the ways we have seen departments do this is to create a personal directory, a book of some sorts, with information about everyone on your team, and as you introduce your new hire, or that you've hired someone new, also add their page to this book.  This gives your current employees an opportunity to look over the page and become familiar with your new person before they get there and also it is an incredible resource for your new employee as they get there and try to learn new names and roles of your existing team, and it could also help create a deeper connection with those individuals as they learn about others who have common interests.

Rosemary Cope:  Well, it also says to that new employee, "We value you already - we think you are important; we are glad to welcome you to be one of us!"

Susie Lyons:  Letting them know in advance, absolutely.  And then on day one, we recommend that managers meet their employee at orientation, talk to them about where they are supposed to park, where they are supposed to go once they park, how do they get to the orientation site, and then what to do after orientation.  Another important thing to think about on the day one is - what is your new employee going to say when they go home tonight, when they leave the job?  What are they going to say to their family and friends?  What was their experience like day one?  Another important thing that managers can do to help new staff feel included would be to assign a mentor, someone who is always there to answer a question or to help guide on a process or a procedure.  You want this to be someone who is obviously a high performer and someone who is modeling our credo, but this shouldn't take the place of you taking time as a leader to meet with them.  You want to talk to this employee regularly and make sure that you are answering their questions and ask them questions.  Ask them what they need.  You don't want to delegate that portion of it.

Rosemary Cope:  Right.  What are some of the hallmarks of being that effective manager?  Can you offer some helpful tips on building strong, cohesive, and effective work groups, beginning with the onboarding?

Susie Lyons:  Absolutely.  Effective managers understand the importance of employee retention and creating that strong, cohesive work group.  They see onboarding as far more than day one orientation job training and learning our policies, but they see it as an experience and the chance to introduce and infuse our culture, our norms, our ideologies, our traditions ... what makes us special.  Effective managers make it a priority to clarify the job roles and to set expectations.  They are talking about the department goals and the organizational goals.  They are helping to create that experience.  Strong managers are also explaining the connection between our jobs and our mission.  For many of us, it is obvious that our hands are on a patient, but every job at Vanderbilt Medical Center impacts healthcare.  When we understand that our job matters, it is easier for us to see that we ... and what we do matters, then this makes it easier for us to create personal ownership and to be part of the team.  We have seen data that show that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after they have had a great onboarding experience.

Rosemary Cope:  If I am that manager with a new person, and what really undergirds all of this is our credo, right, then I am going to look at that.  I am going to model it for this brand-new person.  I am going to model it for my, for my staff.

Susie Lyons:  They see you doing it and then they know immediately what kind of behaviors to repeat.

Rosemary Cope:  And all of that leads to groups that are working well together, people are happy together, our productivity looks good, and if I can make my group to shine, then what happens?

Susie Lyons:  We want to make everybody shine more.  We want to do incredible work.  We want to be a part of a team and fit into this organization.

Rosemary Cope:  Absolutely.  So, then, like we started out, as a manager, I am here to guide an entire team to success and when I have those kinds of thoughts and motivations, I can't help but succeed.  And if there are resources available to me at Vanderbilt, where would I look for them?

Susie Lyons:  We always want to recommend your very first source as your H.R. business partner.  This is a person who works with you on all kinds of H.R. issues, so we want to make sure that you are connecting with them first.  Also, on our Leader Central homepage, there is a supervisor's checklist for new employees that includes many of the things that we have talked about today.  Also, for new managers, either managers who are new to Vanderbilt Medical Center or managers who have been promoted, we have a two-day leader orientation class.  This class specifically goes over onboarding and many other tools and tactics that new leaders can use to strengthen and support employee engagement and retention.

Rosemary Cope:  Great.  Susie, thank you so much for offering your outlook on this.  It is so important.

Thank you all for listening.  If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at health.wellness@vanderbilt.edu or you can use the "Contact Us" page on our website at www.vumc.org/health-wellness.