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Transition Support: Beware of Celebrating Victory Before Really Winning or , Why Making It Personal, Being Empathetic and Providing Careful Assistance Is Vital

Date Posted: March 16, 2017


Beware of celebrating victory before really winning  or , why making it personal, being empathetic and providing careful assistance is vital .

By Jens Hagedorn

You have invested a considerable amount of personal and organizational intellectual and emotional energy, time, attention and financial resources in finding, interviewing ,vetting,  evaluating and negotiating – internally and externally- to hire an individual who just accepted a written offer, signed it and committed to a start date.  You feel a mix of thrill, exhaustion, hope  and relief because the heavy load of an important, urgent , mission critical open position has been lifted from your collective and personal backs.

It is finally over… or is it?

Unfortunately many companies and individuals just drop the ball at this point. We  assume that because a candidate accepted an offer three weeks ago , they will show up next Monday all fresh and ready to start.

This is of course a false supposition, one that may end up being extremely costly and frustrating.

Let´s recognize that even for seasoned executives that have lived through many career changes , the transition from one job to another, let alone from one company to another or from one city/country to another, etc. is extremely difficult.

Change is never easy and the attention and amplification mechanisms stimulated during such a process fuel  all sorts of ideas, fears, emotions, opinions and actions.

Everything gets amplified, every word, detail , suggestion and judgement from so many, well intended  people,  is examined and considered . Often the slightest detail can unleash psychological splendors  like fear of change, post-acceptance cognitive dissonance (buyer´s remorse), avoidance ( ever had a  perfectly fine candidate not return your calls during transition?) ,  second thoughts (from the candidate or their significant other), overthinking ( mostly at night) , post-deal renegotiation attempts, and even full blown panic or anxiety attacks.

In short, the candidate either declines the offer after having accepted it , or never even shows up for work ( yes, it does happen).

Companies will fight harder to keep good people, they will try to retain good individuals with creative and often very effective tactics,  and merely emphasizing the old paradigm of “ Counteroffers Don´t Work”, while still true,   is not nearly enough to defend a hiring process from the effects of financial, organizational, developmental, emotional or intellectual retention actions , and many times , they offer the often false appeasement of the phenomena described above.

At Performance Talent Consulting International, we define the transition  period  as the  evolution of events, decisions, actions, emotions and thoughts in the candidate´s life  during  the time between the candidate´s acceptance of an offer and the actual start date in the new job .

We know the  transition period has always been an extremely delicate, complex  and emotionally taxing process for candidates , their families and their other stakeholders,  and in today´s aggressive marketplace, it has become a real extension of the  battlefield in the war for talent.

As professional recruiters, we have processes in place to enhance overall control (including candidates and hiring companies), and provide effective career change consulting and change management assistance in every search we undertake.

As a team though,  Internal Recruiters, Human Resources, Hiring Managers, Top Management and  Colleagues,  need  to be aware that the game of attracting , developing and retaining good people is an ongoing process and execute much better transition support procedures.

It  is never over!

It is your responsibility as a leader and team member to  make sure you do everything in your power to minimize the risk of losing good candidates during this time.

This is called Transition Support.

The good news is that implementing a process that provides good transition support does not have to be complicated or expensive. Consistency and human  honesty are the key.

Let me share nine  simple actions we have observed  some of the best companies do ,   that with minimal investment, go a long way and  positively contribute to reducing falloffs while positively impacting business culture:

  • After your recruiters has pre-qualified the offer and has  helped you broker it verbally with the candidate and has verbal acceptance, send the offer out on company stationery, signed both by the HR representative and the immediate superior of this position ( Simple but often overlooked).
  • Once you receive the signed accepted offer,  have the immediate superior call the candidate  up immediately , either at home or on their mobile to welcome him/her to the team .
  • Ask the hiring manager to let the candidate know he/she is sure they are a great addition to their team and the company, and encourage them to show how  pleased they are with their decision to join .
  • Let them know there is great opportunity and potential for development and that the journey will be worthwhile and have the hiring manager commit to be  personally accountable to the new employee to facilitating the onboarding , training , and long term development of the person. Give them your personal email, phone numbers, Skype names, WhatsApp, etc. and let them know they can call you anytime, as many times as needed. Make sure such calls are answered.
  • Have someone from the  HR team send him/her an email with a similar message, let them know the company has  started the on-boarding planning process and is preparing for his/her arrival (make sur this is true).
  • Outline next steps with dates and activities. Let them also know who he should call if any questions arise, etc. Again, have HR inquire if they have any questions and be generous with the information you provide them with.
  • Ensure that someone always stays in touch with the candidate during this phase, at least every week, to give him/her news about the process , ask for any additional paperwork, and eventually even ask some of the candidate´s information about likes/dislikes in terms of food, any allergies, birthdays of family members etc. Make it personal, be empathetic and mean it, it is an emotionally taxing time and all candidates need as much support as they can get.
  • If you want to really stand out, sending a welcome card for him and his family to his house  to welcome them  is a simple , inexpensive  way of showing finesse.
  • Keep in touch with them often during the transition time, send them initial information about the company, the market, newsletters, internal mails , or invite them to participate in company meetings , luncheons or events. Make them feel they already belong there, because guess what, they do!

The job of attracting high performing talent in this important stage consists of making sure no one drops the ball, and that includes us as consultants and you, the candidate´s new leader, their new team and their new company.

It is a personal process and it should be managed with empathy, care and professionalism.

Make it your own best practice.

Call any of our consultants to gain knowledge and perspective on the subject of third party and internal transition support.