Arlington Sports Conditioning - Pete Leibman

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The #1 Key to Keep a New Employee Happy

I once accepted a job working for a start-up. During the interview process, my future boss and I agreed to a specific fee structure and set of terms for how the company was going to structure its contracts with customers. We also agreed to a specific commission structure for how the company would compensate me for selling and/or executing the work outlined in any of those contracts.

However, at the end of my first week of employment, I learned that the company had signed several contracts with customers before I was hired, and the fees and terms for those contracts were much less favorable than what my boss and I had discussed. Now, my boss expected me to complete the work for those contracts, and that did not sit well with me. The lower fees for those contracts meant that my pay would be significantly less for executing each project.

It was Friday afternoon when I learned about these unfavorable contracts. Rather than address the issue hastily, I decided to take the weekend to seek advice from some mentors before deciding how to proceed. Each of them ultimately agreed that I was justified to be upset and that my employer should make it right.

My boss and I met on Monday morning. I was calm but explained that I was not pleased, and I asked my boss to put himself in my shoes. He said that he could understand why I was upset. He also agreed to pay me what we had agreed to during the interview process, even though the company would likely take a loss on some of the unfavorable contracts that it had already signed.

I respected my boss for how he handled my concerns, and he probably respected me for addressing the issue professionally. However, this was definitely not an ideal way to start a new job or a working relationship.

Follow-Through on Any Promises Made During the Interview Process

Trust is either built or broken during a new hire’s first 30-60 days on the job. It is imperative for an employer to follow-through on any promises or expectations discussed during the interview process. Not doing so is a major mistake. New hires do not like immediate changes or surprises in regard to compensation, reporting structure, initial responsibilities, work/travel schedule, and so on.

In the example above, my boss and I were able to move forward, but think about how easily this situation could have gone downhill. What if I had responded emotionally after learning about the unfavorable contracts? I might have resigned hastily or said something that could have done irreparable damage to our relationship.

What if I had said nothing, in order to avoid a difficult conversation? Even though that would have been easier, I would have resented the situation, and my performance would likely have suffered.

What if my boss had gotten defensive and refused to make the situation right? In that case, I would have resigned. My boss would have had to explain to the rest of the staff why a new employee quit after one week of employment, and I would have had to figure out what to do next for work.

What If There Is an Unavoidable Change?

No matter how much your company wants to follow-through on promises to a new employee, there might still be an unavoidable change soon after someone is hired. For example, maybe another person leaves your company right after the new hire joins, and that departure requires the new hire to take on additional responsibilities until a replacement is identified. As another example, maybe your company signs an international customer right after the new hire joins, and that requires the new hire to work some odd hours.

Whatever the change might be, the key is to discuss the situation with the new hire and try to make it right as soon as possible. Do not ignore the situation or assume that the new hire is okay with the change. Address it head-on and say something like, “I understand this is not what we discussed during the interview process. How do you feel about this?” Or, say something like, “I understand this is not what we discussed during the interview process. How can we make this right?”

Most people recognize that the business world is volatile and unpredictable. A change or surprise can often be overcome. However, a failure to acknowledge a change or surprise can be fatal. A new hire could feel disrespected by the lack of consideration, and that could lead to resentment and/or an early departure. 

P.S. Looking for more help with your company’s executive recruiting efforts?

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About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for innovative sports, fitness, and wellness companies. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and, and he is the author of two books and over 250 articles on career management, peak performance, and executive recruiting.

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