The whole point behind a corporation is to create a place where individuals can achieve collectively what they cannot accomplish by working alone. And, in a good and positive environment, where everyone is treated as a corporate citizen, managers and employees can do great things together.
But this is not what usually happens -- especially during the first few weeks on a new job when everyone thinks they should be doing better than they are. Those early days are tough also because managers who don't explain things well compound the stress of wanting to excel.
The welcoming process
It doesn't take much to get a new employee off to a good start; just change the way you handle their orientation. Here's an example of what should happen in order to make first timers feel welcome.
Like most people, Amy felt somewhat alienated during the first few days in her new surroundings. But, the situation for Amy progressively improved. The orientation program she attended coupled with the employee documentation packet she was given helped to fill in most of the blanks. When her supervisor took her around to meet the other members of her team, she felt the sincerity of their welcome and came away convinced that she had made a good choice in going to work there.
All this left her with a keen sense of purpose and a clear perspective of how she could make a positive difference. The tasks she was assigned were both challenging and meaningful. It wasn't long before she felt valued and appreciated.
One day, on the homeward commute, Amy felt a comfortable sense of familiarity waft over her. It struck her that she'd met the company's expectations and it had met hers -- all was well. Amy had become a full-fledged member of the corporation with the attendant rights and privileges of "citizenship."
Because of the way she was treated during the first few weeks, Amy was made to feel like a corporate citizen and was looking forward to a prosperous future with her new employer.
What made the difference in Amy's fruitful journey was in how the corporation treated its new citizens.
What Amy's employer did right was to show her the respect due a newly arrived "immigrant." They told her what her job was and showed how what she did contributed to the corporation's goals. They introduced her to the people she'd be working with and made the team's purpose very clear.
Corporate citizenship is a bold concept, but one that, in my opinion, is necessary to accept if America is to remain globally competitive. We must stop draining energy by continuously trying to solve nonproductive problems involving management/employee relationships.
Instead we must concentrate our energy on the task of building a healthy organization.
The five A's of corporate citizenship provide a set of expectations that show managers how to motivate and engage employees as agents of change and show employees how to fit it faster and find job satisfaction as corporate citizens.
Accept the corporate charter. Support the purpose of the corporation by knowing what the organization stands for. That way both sides understand how what they do adds value and contribute to the company's well being.
Admit responsibility for ones actions. When a mistake is made or a failure occurs the person(s) responsible must own up to it so that others don't have to waste time looking for the source of the discrepancy.
Address problems as they occur. Don't wait for authorization before starting to work on a way out of the predicament. Fix what's wrong before it turns into a bigger problem later on.
Adhere to corporate policy. Self-governance ensures that the organization doesn't waste time and divert energy making sure all its principles and practices are followed. Affirm the rights of others. Everyone has the right to an opinion and to seek and offer valid criticism. Accurate feedback ensures that information is passed directly to the individual who needs it by those who can provide it without causing hurt feelings and unnecessary conflict.
All five A's provide an effective structure within which employees can work together cooperatively in conjunction with management.
Another way to view them is that they are a set of guiding principles upon which corporate spirit and commitment can be built. The five A's can also be used as an objective standard to assess the degree to which of your employees has achieved corporate citizenship and which are in need of more orientation.
Jones is a management consultant and author of "Help! I'm Surrounded By Idiots" and "If It's Broken, You Can Fix It." Read his blog at worxinc.com.