Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Secret of Why Hoppers Don't Add Value

I recently wrote a guest post on Your HR Guy's blog about Why I Still Don't Like Job Hoppers. One of the reasons that I noted is that employees don't generally contribute much to the organization in their first 6 to 18 months. Job hoppers leave before they have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. New research is beginning to explain why it takes so long before even highly experienced people add value to a company.

Today's companies run effectively not through individual efforts but through interconnected networks of people. These complex (though usually undefined) networks can speed through red tape or solve a complex problem. A new employee does not have access to this network. It takes time before an employee is accepted and allowed entrance. The new employee's co-workers have to evaluate and judge the employee's skills, abilities, intentions and commitment to understand where he or she fits in to the network.

Job hoppers, by definition, are usually not with a company long enough to gain access to the network. This hampers their ability to contribute to the company in a meaningful way. Job hoppers will plod along doing their best as an individual but they will not have the power to pick up the phone and speak to the person who can make things happen.

It's a cruel paradoxical cycle really. The employee's lack of acceptance into the network is more than likely the thing that precipitates the hopper hopping. Perhaps if job hoppers could be coached on improving their interpersonal skills (or being more patient) and if companies could facilitate access to networks through mentoring and peer-to-peer connections then we could break the cycle of the unproductive job hopper.

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