You know, I am going to see Kelly Clarkson next week.  She is awesome.  I don't know if you're a fan of American Idol.  I used to be, especially that first year.  Kelly was the perfect choice and embodied the hopes and dreams of other undiscovered talent.  She gave others a vision for what could be.  She set the stage, literally, for others to shoot for the moon.  And in that finale, when she gets choked up singing her first hit, A Moment Like This, I join her in being teary-eyed and overwhelmed at what had just happened.

I am very excited to be going to SHRM13 to see her and, hopefully, to sing with her.  She doesn't know it yet, but security ought to know that I am planning on singing backup for one song.  Please don't escort me back to my seat, Mr. Big Bouncer...it's cool.  Right, Kelly?  Pretty please?

I don't think it much matters as to whether it's singing or dancing or typing or preparing reports or selling or litigating, when you find the right fit, it's exhilarating.  Finding someplace where you belong is everyone's ideal; we're wired for it.  We want to be a part of a community.  Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 3rd Stage is Love/Belonging.  We need this engagement level to be met for holistic living and healthy growth.

If you are looking for a job, don't settle on this point.  I know it's easy to say, but I would want to encourage you to find that role that excites, empowers and challenges you.  Be vigilant in finding that role.  Study companies and look for what they offer employees, not just in compensation or health benefits, but in team-building and in knowledge enrichment.  Where can you grow?  With whom would you want to grow?

We would do well to remember that the candidates we're meeting with are trying to find a role.  It's been tough for some of them.  Some may feel like they've been waiting a lifetime for that one special job.  They often try to put their best foot forward and make a great impression.

In my career, I have a friend, Matt, who has worked for me twice.  I am a couple of years older than Matt (stop laughing, Matt) and we were friends prior to him coming to work for me.  He wanted to work for a company that would invest in him and encourage him to greatness.  Tall order for any company, I know.  What Matt decided was based upon the relationship we had.  He already felt invested into and knew that he had grown as I had coached him a bit.  I knew that he was a hard worker and coachable.  When he secured a job at a company I was working for, he was elated.  And he did this again when I moved to a different company.  We don't work together now, but we still maintain our friendship.  He has used those times when he was invested into as a basis for discerning future opportunities.

Why isn't that the way it is more often?  Why can't we encourage that type of desire within our teams?  One area of typical failure is onboarding.  We don't do a good job, classically.  We spend so much time sourcing, screening, interviewing, testing, etc., that by the time we find the right candidate, we are exhausted.  "Yay, we are so glad you are here!" is our first day gush to a new hire. And very quickly, that same day, we check out and hope the person stays in the cubicle for the entire day.  That's what we now call a win?

Honestly, it should be more like Kelly Clarkson's win.  We should be enthusiastic about his/her future.  We should decide how to market this person to the others he/she will be working with regularly.  We should consider the deposits of culture seriously; decide on what we want messaging to be.  Leading them on a brisk office tour (just to get it done) is not effective onboarding.  Where is the excitement?  We, too, as a company should be thrilled to have found the right person!

I know that we don't always find the right person.  I know that as a result, our recruitment has become less fun and more task-oriented.  We have relegated the process to filling a role rather than finding the ideal candidate.  I know we talk about strategy and culture, but at the end of the day, we often fall back into a "get 'er done" mentality.  Let's put the brakes on and turn the car around!

Listen, it's not just about the enthusiasm or emotionality of the onboarding, it's about the stability of the company, the suite of training for the new hires and the organizational commitment language observed and heard.  These facets take work and take time, but they will produce a substantial return on investment.  Be long-term in your view!

So, consider how we welcome and introduce new hires.  What should they know about the company after being there for one day?  One week?  One month? Look at that list and decide on how those objectives of learning will be met.  And celebrate all the way through those learning opportunities.  Make the culture more vibrant and healthier.

I am not saying to have fireworks fall from the ceiling like they did for Kelly when she won Idol, but maybe a sparkler wouldn't hurt.