This article was first published on HR Transformation Network partners on the 24th of October 2014.

Jean Tirole won the Nobel Prize of Economy 2014 “for his analysis of market power and regulation”. This man born in Troyes, France, the city where I studied my BA, is now working at “Toulouse 1 Capitole University, Toulouse, France “.His work reveals the importance of the human psychology in the world of business.

So far, the classical vision of the market could not fully explain the creation of inefficient organizations. The companies’ life is more complex than what we hoped. While the model of Ford made sense in his time, it cannot apply to today’s market. The jobs performed earlier were far simpler than the current ones. Almost no one needed to be computer skilled 30 years ago. Now, no one can survive in the working world without a minimum of IT knowledge.
Looking at the evolution of the market one could think that organizations lost their rationality or worth that they never had it. Jean Tirole proves us all wrong. There are few things that HR professional should learn from his work.

First of all, we are rational but we usually play different roles with different interests. This means that during an interaction our decisions are based on what we know, what we think we know, what we want and our interest. We may work for the same company or same goal but our needs may vary. This difference in interest will impact the way we interact with one another in the organization. An employee may hide a mistake to his boss because his interest is to keep his job. A boss may avoid giving bad feedback because he wants to keep a cool image in the heart of his subordinates.

Second, there are internal and external motivations. On one hand, our intention to perform certain actions is influenced by internal motivation such as the desire to be promoted, to get along with our colleagues, or to preserve a positive self-esteem. On the other hand, external motivation will induce us to behave a certain way. For example, the existence of a sanction for people who arrive late at work will influence their behavior. The creation of transparency rules will also impact the way people deal with information. Organizations have the capacity to modulate the external motivators for their employees. Sometime a sanction meant to reduce a kind of action will in fact increase it. Organizations should then anticipate the type of reaction on motivator can have.

Third, we have access to different information; this is called the information asymmetry. The IT expert has obviously more knowledge and information about computers than the HR person, unless being educated about it. This asymmetry of information is the cause of many misunderstandings and lack of communication. The jargon used in each specialty makes the communication difficult or inexistent. Sometimes we compare it with foreign languages. Information asymmetry is not reduced to that. It can also relate to information that one side has and the other one not. This information asymmetry has a huge impact on final decisions. There are groups’ exercises where one side of the negotiators knows more than the other one. They can decide to keep it for themselves, and then have an advantage, or share it with the other team in order to take a decision that will maximize the outcomes for both sides.

Those three factors: rationality with different interests, internal and external motivation and the information asymmetry when taken as a whole can explain why organizations become inefficient. This implies the existence of power games in the organization with people using their power to satisfy their interests, motivations and need of information.

Jean Tirole pointed out very important factors in organizations’ life which are the existence of personal interests, motivation and access to information. This can be referred to the study of decision making, group dynamics and leadership.

My question is: What can we do as HR professional to avoid the pitfalls of those three decision making factors? My first reflections lead me to the following idea: Organizations are made of individuals with different interests, motivations and information (IMI). The role of HR is to create bridges between individuals IMI, in a way that individuality is respected while helping the organization grow as a whole.

A first step, is to acknowledge the existence of individuals, groups and organizations IMI. The second one, is to understand the dynamics between those three factors. Then, we will be able to create organizations which take advantage of individuals IMI to become efficient.

Yet, the HR and Organizational Sciences spheres have been working on answering some of the questions mentioned earlier. Our role is to focus on the human aspect of business and not consider employee as resources but has a capital part of the organization.

Source: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/2014/tirole-facts.html 




Now you know “How to welcome a new employee”. You understand its importance to increase employee engagement starting on Day-1. Having a personalized welcome strategy allows you to differentiate your organization from the other ones and attract more talents. People exchange information about their first experience with their friends or relatives and sometimes people who approached them to gain insights on the company. Your employees are then one of the best marketing tools to spread good or bad information about your organization.

You may start to panic and realize that in your organization there is not such a thing as a welcome strategy. You understand the principles developed in my post on: “How to welcome a new employee?”, which describe the 5 areas to consider when developing or reinforcing your existing strategy. (Welcome Package, Check-Lists, Personal Mentor, IT and Celebration: read more here)

Before you freak out, let me give you some hints. You can develop your own strategy because you are an expert in your organization. You know its people and processes; you have an insider look and can spot areas of improvements.  The next question is: How can I improve employee first days and weeks at work in my organization?

The first advice I would like to give you is to engage with as many people as possible in your firm during the development of your strategy. This will allow you to get more ideas on the table and a more realistic picture of what is and what will be. You could ask for volunteers to participate to the exercise of developing a welcome strategy. Some may come as they felt that their first days could have been much better organized.

Do not be scared when you receive negatives feedback. On the contrary, use them to build a strong welcome strategy that will reduce the types of incidents your own employees had to face. Acknowledge the need to improve the current state and listen to what your employee have to say. The word “Improvement” suggests that something can be better done. Do not over think about the issues you had in the past but concentrate on constructing a better today and tomorrow.

There are several methods to collect ideas in groups. I encourage you to use the The Snow Card Technique as it is a very effective brainstorming tool. It can be used in small and big groups and the group can be divided by themes. So, if you have not a lot of time allocated to your project but many volunteers, do not hesitate to divide your group in the subcategories (a, b, c, d, e) defined bellow.

It is important to expose the project timeline and steps to the employees involved so they know where they are going and when each step will take place. A clear communication will also allow you to prevent any stress on your side. You will have clearly defined your timeline and expectations to avoid unexpected events.

Let’s now talk about the process itself. It is divided in 5 steps as it is easier to remember 5 steps than 20. Use this process as your own and do not hesitate to add more to it as it is supposed to be a base to start thinking. This is not a rigid method that has to be followed perfectly. You have the responsibility to make it your own. I will be happy to help you during the development process. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions: acgraber@gmail.com

Now let’s have a look at the process I developed to help you create or redefine your welcoming strategy. To do so, you can follow the following process:



Here is a more detailed process to help you with the underlining questions that will help you deepen your thinking process.

 I. Inventory of current situation
a. What is our welcome package?
b. Do we have check-Lists?
c. Do we design a personal mentor?
d. Do we evaluate IT needs?
e. Do we celebrate?

II. Define envisioned strategy
a. What will be the best welcome package ever?
b. What will contain our check-Lists?
c. How will be the personal mentor designed?
d. What and how will we evaluate IT needs?
e. How will we celebrate?

III. Gaps analysis
a. What gaps exist between our current situation and our envisioned strategy?
b. Make a list of all the gaps between those two situations.

IV. Filling the gaps
a. What steps should we follow to fulfill the gaps?
b. What will help use filling the gaps?

V. Review
a. Are the five steps al covered?
b. Are they difficulty we did not anticipate? What can we do about it?

This may seem overwhelming to you but remember that all big thing seem difficult until they are done. Do not give up on your employees. Give them the best reasons to stay with you with the best first days and weeks at work. To be engaged they need to know that they count, not as a number on a employee list, but as a human being.

In case you want to discuss. I am always here for you!

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Congratulation! You made it and got the job. You passed all interviews and tests to finally sit behind a computer which purpose is not to search for a job anymore. You dreamed about your first day and probably had panic attacks the night before: will I arrive on time? Do I have all information necessary? Will I enjoy my job? You are all prepared and may unfortunately be the only one.

Your computer, oh dear, is not working properly. No one seems to know what to do with you? The team does not make efforts to include you…

After several discussions, I realized that some organizations, departments or teams have no clue on how to welcome their new employees. You may think that “welcome to ABC” is enough. Do you realize the impact of a bad first day or week on employee engagement?

When a new employee sees that the organization has nothing planned for him. He starts his journey with a bitter taste. He may feel unsafe, not meaningful and will therefore not be available for the work you hired him for. This is the road to disengagement and it started on the Day 1.

It is your role as an organization to welcome the new employee. For sure, he has to make some effort to integrate himself but coming in a new team can be intimidating. This is where a good welcome strategy helps both the organization and the new employee to create a good relationship.

Fortunately, there are strategies to welcome new employees and improve their adaptation to the new environment. Here are five suggested areas that you may consider developing for your welcome strategy.


Those suggestions should be monitored to your organization’s culture. Do not start having welcome lunch if your team is more into coffee breaks. Do not use Check-List if your team never uses them. Make sure to use tools and strategies that do not deviate from what you are used to. It will be easier then to prepare the Welcome Day of your new employee.

Most of the time, the organizations’ Welcome Strategy do not cover all the 5 suggested areas above. You should then consider the impact of this on the new employee. He may feel perplex because he knows he is welcomed but feels that something is missing.

Finally, the idea is to make the first days and weeks as pleasant as possible to the new employee. When building the welcoming strategy try to imagine what questions a new employee may have or the one you had as a new employee. Your goal will be to help him through the adaptation phase. An employee that feels welcomed will be more inclined to go for the extra mile for the organization.

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