LOVE, DON'T LOSE, THE NEWLY HIRED Finding a fresh-faced managerial prospect is easy. Earning and keeping his loyalty is not.
By WALTER KIECHEL III REPORTER ASSOCIATE David J. Morrow ;

(FORTUNE Magazine) – It's one of the Great Dumb Annual Rites of American Business, observers of the corporate scene, and it will soon be upon us. Call it the psychic slaughter of the innocents, the ruin of youth, or to use a little high-octane jargon, the demotivation of recruits: The company gets all fired up to hire the very best candidates for future managerial glory. It combs the leading business schools and colleges. Finally, after much wining and dining at unconscionable expense, some Wunderkind actually signs on. He shows up at his new corporate home on the appointed summer day, blue-suited, starry-eyed, effervescent with energy and enthusiasm. The company promptly immures him in a small office, giving him numbers to crunch that would bore a second-year payroll clerk. The next time anyone looks in on him, a few months later, he seems strangely distracted. A few months after that, he's gone, leaving behind erstwhile colleagues to mutter about ''goddamn MBAs who want to run the company in three months.'' Smart employers know how to do it better. In the new boy's first months at work, the company must not only teach him the specifics of his new job, but also, perhaps more important, steep him in the corporate culture. On the second front, particularly, you can't begin too soon. Contrast the all too common orientation-by-neglect with the first few months that await managerial recruits at Lincoln Electric, a famously well-run manufacturing company headquartered in Cleveland. When this spring's crop of MBA types arrives, including four from Harvard, they will be rolling up their French cuffs for four to ten weeks of real hands-on training -- at the company's welding school. Lincoln makes electric arc-welding equipment; management reasons that everyone in a position of responsibility should know how the gear works. From there, recruits proceed through as much as a year of on-the-job training in a specialty. Along the way they will rub shoulders with corporate higher-ups, to the point where a potential star may end up with a general sales manager or even the company's president as a mentor. The execs-to-be also receive training in communications and other managerial arts, not from the personnel department but from real live practitioners. Yes, paying all this attention to new hires is expensive. But it seems to work wonders in winning the loyalty of at least , a few of those supposedly fickle business school graduates: Lincoln Electric's CEO, George E. Willis, and its president, Donald F. Hastings, are both Harvard MBAs who began with such training. Daniel S. Fogel, director of the executive education center at Tulane University, sums up the scholarly literature on the key point here: ''There's a lot of consensus that the first six months are absolutely critical, the most critical, in setting up an employee's work attitude.'' And yet, the experts say, employers keep forgetting this, if they ever learned it in the first place. Observes Daniel Nagy, director of placement at the University of Pittsburgh business school and before that chief recruiter for Gulf Oil: ''Often in a manufacturing company the recruiting people are pro-MBA. But on the job, the new hire finds himself with an old-line supervisor who says, 'I worked my way up. You still have to do it that way.' '' Even that kind of put-down is better than no message at all. The odds are your soon-to-be-disaffected managerial trainee isn't looking for all that much in the way of special treatment. He does want to feel that he's using some of what he learned in the course of that fancy education, that he's making a contribution, and that he's going somewhere. It's difficult for him to sustain these beliefs if he thinks nobody knows he's there. Joyce Watts, placement director at Northwestern's Kellogg school of business, enunciates the first principle of managing newly hired MBAs: ''If you don't pay attention to them, you lose them very easily.'' The right kind of attention begins with the hiring process. Two pieces of advice from the experts: Be straight with the potential recruit about what he can expect. If the job entails working 14 hours a day and traveling three nights a week, tell him so. And before you make him an offer, think hard about how he would fit in, both in the job you're slating him for and in the organization. That preppie loner in the Hermes tie may not go down so well with your sales team of backslappers in checked suits. The new recruit will probably bring to his first day on the job a heady combination of excitement, enthusiasm, and anxiety. Don't bring him down by having him spend the whole time over in personnel signing things and listening to Mr. Frump deliver his potted lecture on employee benefits. Nicholas Baloff, a professor of business at Washington University in St. Louis, crisply observes, ''MBAs have little patience for bureaucratic baloney.'' MAKE SURE you tell him when the workday begins, and when he arrives that first morning all prompt and shining, have someone there to take him in tow. The newling should be given a place to hang his hat, then squired around and introduced to the rest of the crew, particularly the people with whom he'll be working closely. When the hour rolls around, the smart boss will take him out to lunch: ''We're really glad to have you with us. Have you had a chance to meet the folks -- Jane, for instance? Let me tell you about how she won that big industrial fasteners account . . .'' So is the tree inclined. Companies that routinely hire platoons of MBAs -- big banks, some accounting firms -- typically have a training program set up for them. Good, but not necessarily enough. The true test of such programs is whether they can sort out the differing needs lurking beneath all those nearly identical blue suits. As professor Marilyn Gist of the University of Washington points out, at a big accounting firm, a newly recruited MBA with six years of auditing experience should be offered one regimen, an MBA with a background in Middle Eastern studies quite another. Among MBAs caught up in programs that don't discriminate, the standard complaint is not of too little training but of training that goes on too long, and to no readily apparent purpose. In the experts' view, a better way to sink the cultural hook deeply into a new recruit is to allow him a little play -- that is, to let him make a few choices of his own in the first few months. According to Charles O'Reilly, a professor at the University of California business school at Berkeley and an expert on socialization, the psychodynamic works something like this: You decide to join an organization. You're then inclined to look up to your so- called superiors in that organization. If they let you have a say in your first couple of assignments and go along with your choices, it reinforces your good feelings about your original decision to join up. Texas Instruments employs a bit of this psychology in its highly successful Control Management Program. As described by Marvin Lane, a TI vice president and the corporate comptroller, the program provides ''a limited number of entry-level positions for highly qualified individuals interested in finance and control,'' most of them MBAs. These hotshots get three or four assignments in their first year or so, some of them special projects, others in regular jobs temporarily vacant. ''Their first assignment is pre-picked for them when they arrive,'' Lane explains. ''In determining his subsequent assignments, the individual works with the management of the program and may have a say-so in deciding what he will do.'' From there, it's usually gung-ho and away. To make sure somebody is paying attention, other companies have cultivated a breed that once occurred wild in nature -- the mentor. Schering-Plough, for example, has engineered such arrangements since 1965; currently 14 rising stars are being burnished this way. ''The program is very individualized,'' explains Linda Cardillo, the pharmaceutical company's director of personnel. ''The management associate is trained by the mentor, a senior executive. It's not watching the mentor work. The trainee has specific responsibilities.'' At the Chicago office of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, a recruit may even be assigned two mentors. The so-called senior mentor, typically seven years along in his career, performs duties traditionally associated with the role, mostly giving advice. The junior mentor, only a year or two out of the training program himself, ''provides 'Hey, I did it' encouragement and serves as more of a social connection,'' says Barbara Lewis, who's in charge of the program. In general the experts heartily approve of such arrangements, but they do offer companies a few cautions. Select your mentors carefully, they advise: You want volunteers, and true believers. Even so, not all combinations may work out; if one doesn't, assign a new mentor, and no hard feelings. Says Lewis: ''You can't make a relationship happen, but you can make an introduction.'' Lastly, and arguably of greatest importance in bringing along a new recruit, make sure that he gets frequent performance appraisals. Quarterly is not too often in his first year or two on the job. These need not be draconian affairs, but they shouldn't be a ten-second pat on the back either. Applaud what he's doing right, coach him on what he's doing wrong. Ask him how he thinks it's going, and listen to what he says. Think of it in this way: You can't really buy a high-priced new MBA; for his first couple of years, you can only rent him. Ah, but if you treat this turbocharged little number with a modicum of care, the company just may get to keep him.