Successful Onboarding

“Getting off on the right foot” is important for both employer and new hires. Those first days and weeks of a new job have the opportunity to set the tone and expectations for success. Companies who have an effective hiring process  can benefit from formalizing the onboarding process as well. Below are three steps that are easily adaptable to different types of businesses. (Details will vary based on whether the person leaving the position being filled is available to train the new hire.)

Step 1: Get ready for the new hire

Take care of as much new hire paperwork ahead of time as possible, and set up technology in advance (such as a mobile phone or computer and/or scanner/copier with the new employee email/folder). Have branded material on their desk, their name on the door, and phone system already operational. Such details show that the company is prepared and committed to the new hire. Paperwork may also include things such as business cards and supplies.

Step 2: Create a transition plan for the new person’s first week/month/quarter

Define the big picture of what the new person in the position will accomplish. This is a good time to look at what worked and what didn’t work before, and there may be an opportunity for the new hire to bring a new or different value to the job description. If it’s a newly-created position, the skills, experience and input of the new hire will be helpful in shaping the role.

Step 3: Write a rough schedule for the first day and first week

Here’s an example:

First Day

Start the day meeting with supervisor who gives a tour of the office and introduces the new employee to the rest of the team. Take care of any final paperwork, such as the I-9 and other official forms. Talk about company culture. Begin the transition into new work with the supervisor or the person who will train the incoming employee. Consider a mentor/buddy for the new hire as a go-to person for answers to questions. If possible, take the new person out to lunch with several team mates. At the end of the day, take time for a conversation to say, “How do you feel today went? We tried to be ready for you; how did we do?”

 Rest of first week

  • Introduce new employee to key vendors, subs, professionals, etc. (can be virtual).
  • Talk about expectations for 30, 60, 90 days and commit to meetings for those days, scheduling now before time gets away. Review and feedback of early contributions (30/60/90 days) makes an employee feel a part of the organization. He or she may wonder if they are on-target for the work expectations.
  • Determine the right balance between getting started and overwhelming with information.
  • Provide an opportunity for feedback and questions.

What to talk about with new hires

Assume that the new hire knows nothing about the company. He or she may have done homework for the interview, yet as an official part of the team, explanations about company business and strategy can be more specific and in-depth. Below are four suggestions for meetings and topics:

Meeting 1 – Introduction to the company

  • Values – Talk about what’s important to the company culture, and what is the company’s mission.
  • Overall policies — Are there written and unwritten policies/procedures that the new person needs to know. For example, a dress code or working hours, cell phone rules, tools that make the job easier, etc. Having a company handbook is helpful and also provides legal documentation for policies.

Meeting 2 – Working with supervisor and/or team

  • Working styles – Dialogue about the best ways to work together, describing strengths and weaknesses up front to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Priorities – Talk about how to define priorities and who/where are the resources and tools for working successfully.
  • Communication – What is the best way to communicate? Email, internal software systems, text messages? Know when/how to follow up. How should they handle mistakes?

Meeting 3 – Technical skills

  • Does the new employee have all of the skills to do the job well? Find out if and what additional training will be helpful.

Meeting 4 – Soft skills

If the new employee interfaces outside the company, then he or she will be expected to represent the company in alignment with company values and key messages.

  • When/Where/What to Say – What is the ‘elevator version’/ short description of the company business? Talk about the value that the company brings to customers/clients. The business is more than the task; know and explain the benefits that customers receive as a result of working with the company.
  • Communication – Talk about the best way(s) to communicate with customers, overall and specific preferences for key clients.

Employees are a company’s most valuable assets. Each person in a company reflects the values and does the work that establishes the business reputation. Hiring the right people is an important first step. Creating an ambassador for the company through onboarding contributes to a business’ ultimate success.