Onboarding New Hires

IT’S IMPORTANT FOR bosses to get off on the right foot with any new hire. When an employee’s orientation and training for a new job are done well, it can lead to improved employee job satisfaction, morale, performance and retention.

Hiring someone is the first step, but it’s what a boss does from that point forward that matters.

I cringe when I hear stories of new hires who arrive on their first day only to find their new boss and workplaces totally unprepared for them. For example, a receptionist looking perplexed at the new arrival, saying, “No one told me you were coming.” As a result, the new person’s first impression can range from, “I’m not important,” to, “Uh oh, this company doesn’t have its act together.” These initial judgments can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, which most companies can’t afford with new talent.

Here are a few tips to help you get off on the right foot with a new hire.

Communicate. Send out an advance e-mail notice informing staff of the new hire’s arrival date and the requested “to do” actions. These include typical detail items such as setting up the new hire’s workplace station (computers, phones, etc.) and laying out expectations for communication. Offer some background information about the new hire so staff will be better prepared to offer a sincere, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here.” The hiring manager should personally escort and enthusiastically introduce the new person to staff.

Coach’s tip: An intranet photo board listing names and positions can help new employees understand how the organization is structured and learn all those new faces.

Provide all new employees with a company orientation covering your unique workplace HR policies and procedures. Consider creating an FAQ, or “frequently asked questions,” intranet Web page as a resource. Include details such as casual Fridays. (You don’t want the new person embarrassed having shown up in a suit on a casual Friday.) Orientation should address employee basics, such as insurance and holidays. There are Web-based options available to provide a “hub” for accessing, navigating and completing required paperwork. Standardizing this can facilitate a smoother entry process.

Plan. Bosses and key staff should set aside designated time to sit with the new hire during the first week to answer questions and explain processes. Bosses particularly need to be available to support the new hire — avoid scheduling vacations or outside office commitments.

Train. New employee training should be provided by someone with the necessary people, training and specific job knowledge/experience to train effectively. I hear too many tales from frustrated employees who never received adequate training (and who inevitably don’t meet their employer’s expectations). The best trainers adapt to people’s preferred learning styles. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Some people learn best by doing (driving rather than hearing someone describe the process or reading it in a manual). Simply throwing a new hire a thick employee handbook rarely works.

Coach’s tip: Don’t let your naysayers or company downers conduct new employee training. The last thing you want is your new employee getting brainwashed by a disgruntled or unhappy staff member.

Keep it simple in the beginning. Flooding new employees with minute details or noncritical paperwork is a common mistake. Focus and explain the “big picture.” Remember, for a new hire, everything is new and overwhelming. Try to keep the first day more personal than paperwork or process driven. You want it to be a positive experience. Like the first day at school, it leaves a lasting impression.

Keep checking in often. Take him or her out to lunch the first day. Use this time to get to know the new employee better and ask how things are going. Encourage the employee to bounce questions, concerns and observations off you, and listen carefully. A simple, “How are you feeling?” can shed light on how you should proceed.

Don’t kid yourself thinking the “sink or swim” approach for a new hire will work. Be realistic with your expectations around how quickly he or she should be assimilating information, processes and procedures. Learning takes time and repetition. One standard rule of thumb — don’t expect a new hire to be fully functioning in a new role until at least three to six months.

Be specific describing responsibilities. Communicating clear expectations around behavior and tasks is important for any successful boss/employee relationship.

Have a discussion about preferred communication styles; yours as the boss and theirs. For example, are you OK with yelling over the cubicle wall or do you want them to schedule an appointment? Should they address issues as they come up or in regular one-on-one meetings? Do you prefer text, e-mail or IM-ing, and what level of detail do you desire? How will you work out differences?

Bosses should do everything in their power to set an expectation for open communication. The wisest bosses assure new people that their mistakes will be viewed as “learning opportunities.”

Hire me as a coach to help you with identify, leverage and growing your most important resource -your people!  Phone me: 360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com  I coach clients all over the world with Skype!

 

New Job? Dos and Don’ts

Congratulations — you got a new job! No doubt you are anxious to make a good first impression. You can bet your new co-workers and boss are anxious to see how you will fit in. Here are some tips to get you off on the right foot.

Dos.

  • Have a positive attitude. Attitude speaks volumes about who and what you are.
  • Get clarity early with the boss about your role, priorities and expectations. Ask questions, listen well and take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unclear about something, including where to go to when you get in trouble. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Request regular one-on-one meetings about how you are doing — and what you can do even better. Developing a “can learn” in addition to a “can do” reputation will help you develop a professional and positive rapport with your new boss.
  • Find a mentor — someone you respect, whose experience and opinion can help you grow in your career. Consider someone who has been there long enough to help you navigate the “political” environment. Find someone with whom you can speak freely with about workplace or career concerns (bosses don’t typically make the best mentors for this reason). Mentors can be critical relationships to your career growth. Most people are flattered and happy to help if you ask (particularly if you remind them of themselves). Remember: Having a mentor is a two-way street. Ask how you can help and contribute to their success as well.
  • Show up early (you don’t have to overdo this), and don’t sprint from your desk at 4:59 p.m. You don’t have to be the last to leave but don’t always be the first to leave. Demonstrate your willingness to stay longer to finish an important project on deadline. Believe me — others notice your work ethic. There is an old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In a challenging environment it may make the difference between your getting going or simply being “gone.”
  • Convince your boss that he/she made a good choice in hiring you. Most new hires are in an unofficial “probationary” period. This “honeymoon” period is when the little things, including attendance and punctuality, are noticed. If traffic is unpredictable, leave earlier. Getting there early beats getting there late any day of the week. Starting off being habitually late and/or demonstrating a lackadaisical attitude leaves bosses wondering how committed you really are and whether he or she made a mistake hiring you.
  • Do what you say you will do. This is tried and true advice. Don’t promise tasks you can’t deliver. Track and honor any commitments you make to your team and boss. Deliver results that exceed commitments and expectations — consistently. Want a promotion — fast? One way is to become a “go to get it done” resource early on with both your boss and co-workers.
  • Demonstrate you are a team player. Pitch in on things like lunchroom cleanup, making coffee or replenishing the printer paper. Work hard to get along with all your colleagues — from the janitorial staff to the receptionist. You might be surprised about who has leverage with the boss when they hear you are well-liked (or not!) by your co-workers.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use company time to surf the Internet, send personal e-mails or stay plugged into your iPod (at the very least until you become more familiar with the company’s culture and tolerance or boundaries around these kinds of activities). Take care of your personal needs on your time. Take the initiative during slow or down time to research and learn something new you can apply to your job — there is always something you can be working on to improve or helping someone else out with.
  • Don’t establish yourself as the newly designated “water cooler gossip.” Stay out of personal issues and office politics for as long as possible. (Yes, I know it is tempting and human nature.) Avoid getting sucked in and coerced by the naysayers and complainers. You will be judged by your discretion, including those people you choose to surround yourself with — choose intentionally and wisely.
  • Don’t bring your boss problems without also offering options for a solution. Don’t say, “Sorry, boss, the printer broke so those handouts you wanted won’t be done in time for the meeting.” Instead try, “The printer broke. I submitted the materials online to Kinkos and am leaving to pick them up so you will have them in time for your meeting.” Demonstrating you are resourceful and capable of resolving challenges will help put you on the fast track.

Lastly, don’t get defensive or upset when your boss offers constructive criticism or feedback. Instead, take feedback as a learning opportunity and thank your boss for helping you become more aware.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com