In our May 1st article, I talked about Spring turnover and how to approach it with a different mindset. Having to fill an open position on your team can be stressful; so there’s usually a huge sigh of relief once you’ve identified the right person.
But for me, that feeling of calm only lasts until I remember that transition doesn’t end there. I still have to fold the person into the organization and the team.
The way you approach onboarding an employee can make or break the success of the hire. Just like first impressions when two people meet, the first hours and days at a new job stick in our minds. If you get off to a rocky and unorganized start, the new team member may begin to question why they left another job for this one.
People perform better when they are calm, confident, and have clear information. A good onboarding process is designed with those goals in mind.
Here are 5 ways to get the work relationship off on the right foot.
Build Time into Your Schedule
Go into this transition time with open eyes and an open calendar. Just as hiring staff is a project to which time must be allocated, so is onboarding.
In the days or weeks before the individual arrives, there are many details to attend to that will make the onboarding process flow smoothly. Block adequate time on your calendar to take care of these items.
The investment of time and energy on the front end will save both in the long run by enabling you to avoid miscommunications and procedural missteps along the way.
Just because you were able to woo a candidate to accept a job offer, doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind before the first day comes.
In a tight labor market top talent has many options to pick from; so keep building the relationship you started during the recruiting process.
Starting a new job can be stressful. Do what you can to warm up cold feet.
Set reminders for yourself to send a few emails to stay connected. Consider sending a card or small gift to let the person know you’re excited they’re joining the team.
Plan For Success
Great onboarding doesn’t happen by chance, it requires forethought. Spend thirty minutes sketching out what the first week on the job will look like.
Include time for filling out paperwork, getting oriented to the worksite, meeting coworkers, training, and basic work tasks. Providing this to the new hire in the form of an onboarding and training agenda or calendar prior to the first day will help calm any uncertainties the new hire may have about what the first days and weeks will entail.
Plan time for yourself or your teammates to get access to systems to set up in advance. Ensure procedures are documented, phone lists and other work tools updated, and copies of documents and manuals are available.
All these steps will send a clear message that you’ve been eager for them start work and have done everything you can to make the transition smooth.
Day One Priorities
With so much to share, it’s hard to know where to begin! I recommend two priorities for the first day: making the person feel comfortable and setting the groundwork for effective relationships.
Making them feel comfortable starts with a warm welcome. Ensure key people know when the new person is arriving and that they have time set aside to provide orientation and training.
This will include a thorough tour so they know the lay of the land including their workstation, break room, and restrooms. Make sure they have access to supplies to make their work area efficient for them.
Carve out time in your own schedule to spend 90 minutes or so in a relaxed, one-on-one conversation. Share with each other your work styles including things such as preferred methods of communication in various situations, workflow preferences, decision-making styles, etc. You’re setting relationship expectations with each other, so take notes so you can honor each others preferences.
Provide co-workers time to get to know the new team member during the first day. A casual lunch together is an effective way to get acquainted and to let them see how the group interacts. Be sure to build in one-on-one time with co-workers as well so that the new person can learn about every other members’ role and how it integrates into theirs.
Nurture Open Communication
With the first day under your belt, it’s easy to get overly confident that everything is on track. There are learning curves to all jobs no matter how much experience someone walks through the door with.
Schedule reoccurring weekly meetings for at least the first several months. At that point, you can jointly assess if that frequency works or if you want to spread out the time between touch points.
Carefully observe and take note of behavior and performance in the first 30 days. Provide immediate feedback regularly as well as formal feedback at about the 30-45 day mark. If there are any issues, you want to work them out right away.
What Ideas Do You Have?
What are other things essential to effectively onboard a team member? Please share in the comment section below!
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