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July 31, 2019

Guest Blogger: Kimley-Horn President/CEO Steve Lefton Looks at the Challenge of Integrating New Employees

by Steve Lefton

Think back to when you were a new employee at your company. What kinds of things did you learn? Who did you talk to? How long did it take for you to truly feel part of the team?

We’ve all been new hires at one point. Maybe you’re even starting a new job right now. From trying to learn the day-to-day items, like how to navigate the office and use new computer programs, to understanding larger concepts like brand and culture, integrating into a new company can be a great challenge. As the years go by, though, it’s easy to forget what it feels like to be new.

Like me, you may have spent the last 22 years at your company learning, living, and maybe even shaping its culture and philosophy. It’s probably second-nature to you at this point. But that wasn’t always the case.

At Kimley-Horn, we understand that joining a new company can be overwhelming; our new hires are exposed to a great deal of information in a short period of time. For this reason, we look at true cultural integration as a journey, not a destination—an ongoing process that is crucial to the long-term success of our people. This means we operate with the mindset that new hires should be continually exposed to our culture and experience it first-hand: how we operate, interact, deal with situations, and problem-solve. Our integration process is not just a class or program provided to new hires when they first arrive. Rather, we’re intentional on not only educating them about our culture, but also living our culture each and every day.

Our chairman John Atz does an excellent job elaborating on this point: “Our culture is an essential part of who we are; it’s what makes Kimley-Horn not only a special place to work, but to grow and thrive. As such, cultural integration cannot be equated to a checklist or policy manual—it’s learned experientially, not academically. One must experience our culture to truly integrate into the fabric of our firm. This is what we mean by integration as a journey, not a destination.”

Throughout this journey, our employees have told us it’s the small, simple things that go a long way—like having their desks set up when they first arrive or assigning them a “buddy” to give them an office tour and take them to lunch. Furthermore, it’s the way we help them cultivate relationships with our people and our clients through things like networking lunch coupons and ongoing training opportunities. We set them up for success by providing the tools they need to be able to start contributing as soon as possible and in a meaningful way. In doing so, we lay the foundation for sustained success. After all, it’s through the success of all our people that our firm is able to flourish.

Ultimately, our investment in the integration journey is representative of our long-term commitment to our people. We prioritize integration into the firm because we look at all employees like they’re lifetime employees—new members of our family. And by passing a consistent culture down from one generation to the next, we’re able to maintain the values and principles of those who founded the firm. It is through this practice that we can continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability and provide professional opportunities for all our team members.

So, cultivate that long-term view on integration. For the new hire joining your team, what steps will you take to help them along their integration journey? And to that new hire: have fun, listen well, and enjoy the journey. One day, sooner than you think, your company’s culture will be second-nature to you, and you’ll have the privilege of passing the torch to the next generation.

Steve Lefton is president/CEO of Kimley-Horn.

All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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July 31, 2019



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