Getting Onboarding Right

By Davon Cook on April 21, 2016

So you’ve made a great hire. Your new worker shows up on time the first day. Now what?
     First, make a plan before they show up the first day! The process of integrating a new employee into your organization is called “onboarding.” You are intentionally getting them on board to understand your organization, your team, and their role in it. Refer to thejob description you put so much thought into. Make a calendar of the first 4-6 weeks in half-day increments. Which of the responsibilities will they be focused on? Translate that to activities they could be doing each day. Things may change, but having a first draft helps you line up the people and resources they will need to get started.
     Second, consider who will need to be involved in their training. Have you taken the time to brief that person on your new hire, the job description, and your hopes and desires for this new recruit? Have you equipped the trainer with the information and helped develop the skills to be effective at teaching? (More on training specifically in a future column.)
     Now you are ready. And now it’s the first day. When the new staff member arrives, make them feel welcome. Take the time for introductions and a tour, even if you delegate it to a buddy. Be realistic about how much one can absorb at first. I’ve heard it said that the first day on a new job is like kindergarten: it’s successful if you learn where the bathroom is, where to eat, and the names of a few new friends.
     Define your expectations for how and when you or another team member will check in with the new worker. Good communication starts from day one. Show that you are investing in their success by committing to a regular time to answer questions and provide helpful, early feedback. If this is a strategic hire in a new or critical position, perhaps taking them to lunch once a month is a practical way to make sure you are building a communicative relationship.
     In our busy daily management lives, it’s easy to let the onboarding process be an afterthought. Remember, however, you are setting the tone for what will hopefully be a long, productive employment relationship.