The workforce is full of employees who cut their teeth in small companies.
As this group may seek the experience of working in a larger corporations, they face a unique set of challenges in enterprise-size companies that they may not expect.
In many ways, these challenges can seem particularly difficult for employees who are not accustomed to the constraints usually found in a large organizational workplace.
What are some of the challenges a new employee may face?
Regulated work hours Often in a small company, work hours may be flexible. Depending on the industry, it may be common for employees to have a schedule that changes every day, based on the needs of the individual or the company. Changing the schedule may be as simple as saying, “I’ll be in late tomorrow” or “I am working from home.” Moving to an organization that has regulated work hours may be a culture shock and feel restrictive, particularly if an employee has years of experience working to deliver results rather than ensuring they are in the office between a certain window of time.
Following procedures In small companies, procedures are often looked at as suggestions which can be flexible as needed. The employee is often wearing multiple hats, so the line between job roles is blurred and ‘whatever it takes to get the job done’ is the only limitation. Within a larger organization, however, there are procedures in place that need to be followed, and breaking those procedures can be viewed as detrimental to the success of the project and of that individual. Following a set of rules and processes may be confining for someone who is used to forging their own path.
Limited work responsibility For many small companies, employees wear multiple hats and have a variety of responsibilities. At times they may be responsible for managing customer inquiries and dealing with vendors. In a larger company, there are departments that handle specific tasks, limiting what the employee will be responsible to do. While in some ways this can be liberating, it can also be challenging for individuals to only handle their piece, and only their defined piece of the organization.
How can your organization help individuals transition from their small company “do anything to get the job done” mindset to their present large company reality?
Onboarding A carefully designed onboarding process can help reduce the culture shock that employees may feel as they join your organization. Through onboarding, new employees can discover the culture of the organization as well as the heart of the business. From the day to day (compliance and completion of official documentation) to the long-term (where will the company be in five years? ten?) onboarding is designed to assist employees in learning the ropes of the company.
At this step, it would be important to explain to the employee that the large enterprise exists because many of the processes and procedures are there to help the huge (national or global) organization move forward. Explain that it isn’t good or bad, it is different.
Peer Mentoring Assigning new employees to seasoned employees will allow the new employee to feel connected immediately. It reduces the intimidation of having to go to management for questions that may seem unimportant, and provides the opportunity for interpersonal relationships to develop. One of the biggest factors in new employee retention success is how quickly they form ties to other employees. This helps develop a sense of purpose and loyalty to their new employer and makes them feel less like the new kid everyone is staring at.
Employee Training Offering carefully designed training programs can provide the new employee with the tools they need to be successful in their new position. Teaching employees the skills of goal-setting, problem solving and team work can help to integrate the employee to the organization’s methodology and mindset.
Employees who transition from small companies to large corporations bring a fresh new perspective to their work that is sometimes lost in a bigger organization. Look for ways to harness their enthusiasm without overwhelming them in their new environment. Ready to make training an essential part of your employee retention process? We’re here to help.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agencyand My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.

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