I love how fast food commercials – Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King…pick your favorite – blatantly misrepresent their fare. Never has a burger looked so damn good – cheese perfectly melted, lettuce and tomato crisp and sparkling with dew drops, and pipin’ hot steam rising from the patty. When you unwrap that cheap foil or open the box, though, you can’t help but be terribly disappointed. Talk about a good old fashioned case of false advertising (there’s a class-action suit here somewhere).
What do you falsely advertise in your new hire orientations? How much do you embelish or conveniently ommit the whole story about a particular program or benefit? I bet you do it more than you think…even if you’re doing it inadvertently. I bet you tell everyone that you have a performance management system and that you use it to develop your people, to help them understand what’s expected of them, to evaluate them, and to ultimately pay them. But do you tell them that less than 50% of managers are actually compliant with it? Do you tell them that people complain about it being too cumbersome? I bet you talk about your kick-ass online coursework and learning management system. But there’s no way you’re telling them that they’ll never find the time to use it. Most of your new hires are smart enough to understand not everything is as good in practice as it is on paper (unless it’s their first job). That’s o.k., chances are your performance management or learning systems didn’t really have that big an impact on their decision to join your company. So why do we even take the time to bullshit them? Why not be perfectly transparent with them from the get go? Take time to identify the potential pitfalls and give them some tips for avoiding them (e.g. “you’re probably going to have to kick and scream to get an evaluation from your manager, but ask early and ask often…and then tell us if you don’t get one.”) Be proud about what’s good, but also share the bad and ugly. Tell them what you’re doing to fix it and solicit their patience and support while you do so. Otherwise, they’ll just be part of perpetuating the same old issues.
This ain’t no fast food commercial – it’s someone’s job. Give people the data they need to make good decisions, to contribute, and to make a difference in your organization.
Photo Credit: McDonald’s