The old saying goes, “there is no ‘I’ in team,” but recent research by Program on Negotiation faculty member and Harvard Business School Associate Professor Francesca Gino and others suggests that an organization should pay attention to the various individuals it recruits, and by doing so it can improve employee retention and productivity.
Recently featured in Business Insider, Professor Gino’s research, done in collaboration with colleagues Dan M. Cable and Brad Staats, examines socialization theory, or the process of instilling corporate culture into new employees.
Breaking Them In or Revealing Their Best
Her working paper, “Breaking Them In or Revealing Their Best? Reframing Socialization Around Newcomer Self-Expression,” compares three types of orientation sessions for new employees.
The first type of orientation, focused on the new employee as an individual and her ‘best-self,’ was contrasted with:
Socialization that focused on organizational identity (emphasizing pride from organizational affiliation)
The organization’s traditional approach, which focused primarily on skills training.
Often when a new hire begins her work at a company, the company will offer various orientation courses to acclimate her to the corporate culture as well as help her internalize its corporate values.
By drawing on ‘authenticity research,’ Professor Gino argues that if initial training is focused on the employee as an individual, more effective employment relationships result, or as Gino says:
“People work their best when their inner-selves and experiences are aligned with what they do at their job.”
In order to elicit such responses, Gino and her team crafted questions that honed in on individuals traits rather than ask purely task-oriented or work history questions:
– What is unique about you that leads you to your happiest times and your best performance at work?
– Your Personal Highlight Reel: Reflect on a specific time – perhaps on a job, perhaps at home – when you were acting the way you were ‘born to act’?
By focusing on the individual rather than the organization’s needs, Gino was able to determine that people valued authenticity in their work environment more than they valued internalizing organizational ethics.
In other words, when developing a corporation orientation or training course, don’t focus on the organization but rather on the individuals hired.
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