The first day of employment at a new company is so critical in determining if this was the right move. Too many companies leave this to chance and don’t have things ready. One of my first positions in my career I started at a company and they didn’t have a computer or a phone for me. “Read this documentation for the first day,” I was told. I as most people would have some second thoughts that day. “What have I gotten myself into?” and “Did I make a wrong move here?” were some questions I thought. This falls under the term “onboarding” so let’s define that first.
“Onboarding helps new hires adjust to the social and performance aspects of their jobs so they can quickly become productive, contributing members of the organization.” This definition is from the Society of Human Resource Management’s Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success. It all boils down to that impression you make to the new hire and how well you make them feel at home and that they have made the right decision to come and work here.
What is the new person supposed to do? Have you identified clear objectives for them? In Dave Ramsey’s book Entreleadership he talks about how each person on his team has their Key Result Area or KRA. Nothing can be more frustrating than showing up and there is confusion about what you are going to do for this organization. Do you have clear objectives for your new team member?
Organizations all have their own distinct culture, try to find ways to bring people into the group from the very beginning. For instance, some teams have a way of marking their area. One team, I worked with had each member represented by a superhero. When someone new came into the group they could choose their own superhero. How do you bring new people into your culture?
Working in technology we need to have our technical role defined. Along with your objective, we need to understand our technical role as well as have the team understand that too. A friend of mine got hired to work as a developer on a team. Two other people on the team were already doing similar work so when the new employee started the other team members were confused. The manager had brought my friend into the organization to help change the technology they were using. This had never been communicated to the team and put things off in a bad situation. Do you communicate the new team members clear technical role?
We hear a lot of talk about mentoring in professional careers. Some companies have had success pairing new employees with a peer that helps them navigate their first few months. This can be valuable to bring the person up to speed quickly. There is value in having someone other than their direct manager do this. The manager can appear like they are checking in a lot where a peer understands the day to day activities better.
As new people come into an organization we need to have open channels of feedback from the new employees and to the new employees. A thirty day and sixty-day review process is a good checkpoint to have to make sure the employee feels like their needs are being met and share any feedback for them from others as well. We need to ensure they understand their place in the group and how they can contribute to success. If we don’t share with them the expectations and then they don’t meet them, whose fault is this?
People tend to stick around in places where they see opportunity. Do you talk with your team and especially new people about the different opportunities at your organization? I recently worked with a coaching client that worked in a job they deemed as a “dead-end” job. After working with them awhile we uncovered some hidden opportunities for them in their current organization. If you aren’t sharing these with people they might move on.
The idea of the onboarding process is to create something you can replicate. McDonald’s became successful not because the hamburgers are great but, because people could depend on it in every place being the same. Consistent performance is a hallmark of great organizations. Don’t leave this to chance create a checklist of the things that are needed before someone walks in the door. Then create a checklist for the first day, week, and month. Make it so they tell their friends about your organization.