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The essential elements of onboarding a new employee
I don’t care what you call it – onboarding, orientation or an associate program. What I care about is what you are communicating to your newly hired employee during the first 90 days of their employment. It could easily be called the “battle for an employee’s soul”. According to research there are three “tribes” within an organization, they are the ‘superstars’ (25%),’ 9-5ers’ (55%) and the ‘actively disengaged’ (20%) – First, Break All the Rules. Your actions (even more than words) as an employer in those crucial first 90 days greatly impact which path your new hire will chart.
Every company has an onboarding process; few do it with a strategic intention. This window of time is your opportunity to show how much you care and are invested in the success of all your employees. Sending a new hire a welcome packet, required HR paper work, welcome emails or notes from their team before their first day shows you care and you want them to get up to speed quickly. By showing you care about a new hire as a person and valuing their success, you are taking huge strides in guiding them towards the “superstar tribe”.
Being thoughtful and prepared will go a long way with a new employee. No one likes being the “new kid”, so do everything you can to minimize that stigma. The worst thing an employer can do is not be prepared for someone’s first day or week. It communicates “I’m too busy to be concerned with you and your success”. There are a multitude of actions you can and should take to get a new hire up to speed and producing, but for this article I’m just going to cover the essentials.
Be prepared on the first day (and before) – Create a new hire check list and follow it (Click here for our Simple New Hire Checklist). Large gaps of downtime and piles of paperwork early (and often) make a bad first impression. Email as much required paperwork to be completed ahead of time. Today’s star employee wants meaningful work as soon as possible. Show them you desire this too and want to get them up and running quickly.
Set expectations early – Avoid future headaches by setting expectations clearly and quickly (see VisionSpark’s 5 Steps to Accountability). This is prime time for a front line manager to create a foundation of success. Explain to the new hire “This is what it takes to be successful.” These expectations should have a timeline and should be reviewed at least monthly with a new hire and manager the first 90 days and then quarterly. Overwhelming research shows the number one reason people quit jobs is a bad relationship with a direct supervisor. Establishing clear expectations gets this key relationship off to a great start.
Provide a guide - As I said earlier no one likes being the “new kid”. So provide a co-worker to serve as a guide to help them get acclimated to your company. Simple things such as pointing out restroom and cafeteria locations, while making key introductions will help the new hire settle quickly.
Focus on relationships – If there is no onboarding plan; odds are this person “is just going to figure things out” on their own. Do you really want to leave it up to chance who this person is influenced by early in their career? Create a shadow calendar and pair this person with your top performers and company evangelists. Make sure they are connecting with members of their team over lunch and are being invited to after hour events. The quickest path to a short stint with your company is “isolation” and no friends. Take every step you can to help create friendships and you will retain your new employee longer.
A friend and mentor always said “if you want to make someone a sailor, take them to the docks”. This is a fantastic picture of onboarding. How long does it take for your new employee to “hang out at the docks”? Learn the “language” of sailors, get “wet” and become a part of the “crew”? And eventually set “sail”? The more effectively this is done, the more you increase the odds of your new hire joining the superstar “tribe”.