It’s nothing short of awkward when an employee starts in a new role only to find the company are simply not ready for them. Nothing has been prepared in advance and precious time and money is spent on a bored and confused new starter with little idea about what they’re supposed to be doing. It makes us wince just thinking about it. And yet, it happens time and time again. Companies find themselves growing at such a rate that it becomes essential to get someone new onboard however, there’s no clear idea about what that process looks like and nothing has been prepared for when they arrive.
Having said this, We understand how difficult it can be preparing an onboarding process for a new starter, especially in a fast paced world where other priorities take front and centre stage.
That’s why we have put together this handy list of 5 tips to help you make your onboarding process as straightforward and easy as possible.
Without further ado, here’s our pick of the top 5 tips:
- Know as much about the role and the individual as possible before they start.
We know it sounds kind of obvious but, it’s surprising how frequently this doesn’t happen. Having a firm idea about exactly why you need to hire someone, what you need them to do and how you need them to do it can have a significant impact on the onboarding process and can make the difference between a new starter crash landing or hitting the ground running.
In advance to them starting, establish a detailed job description. Devise a means by which to hold your new starter to account and clearly communicate your expectations.
Hire the right person for the job and be confident in their ability.
On their first day, take some time out to walk them through the role in general again, walk them through what you expect and introduce them to just a few key individuals who will be able to keep them accountable and help them find their feet. Make sure they leave work on their first day knowing what an average day will look like, what your company ethos is, what kind of boundaries there are.
2. Figure out your balance between structure and autonomy.
For some roles, a new starter might need three to four solid weeks of one to one, hand on hand supervision and mentoring. For other roles, they might need a morning of it before they feel comfortable and free doing what you’re paying them to do. We can’t tell you specifically what that looks like as it varies dramatically from role to role however, there is almost always a balance between those two (unless you’re the micro managing type who wants nothing but TOTAL DOMINANCE over their employees but we doubt you’d be reading this blog or using something as innovative as JobSwipe Hire if you were like that).
As we said above, it’s probably good to have worked out an accountability structure to ensure that everyone understands how things are going. For example, could you book the employee in for a, ‘catch up’ meeting once a fortnight?
3. Have a to do list for you and for your new starter.
It’s honestly the straightforward sounding tips that can find themselves overlooked. We think it’s remarkable how significant an impact the humble, ‘to do’ list can have on any business process. Because it is so timeless, easy to understand and easy to follow, it makes sense that a good to do list can massively affect efficiency with the onboarding process.
Think of a list of tasks that need doing in the week leading up to your employee starting. Do they need an email account setting up? Do they need any documents sending to them in advance? Do they need to complete any pre work tasks? Do you need to structure their induction with meetings and demonstrations? Do you need to schedule their first week? All of these questions and more can be compiled into a handy, ‘to-do’ and keep you well and truly on task, ensuring your onboarding process is straightforward.
4. Give excellent feedback.
We have touched upon this a little with the accountability remarks however, it’s worth dedicating an entire tip to this subject alone. Good feedback ensures that your new starter knows exactly how well they are doing, it increases their confidence and determines the trajectory of their time within your company. Bad feedback can have a huge adverse effect such as: low morale, poor performance and mistake making.
If you have criticism to give, make sure to sandwich it neatly between two healthy slices of delicious compliments. This goes even if the criticism you need to give is dire. You could use the following structure for help:
You: The situation is, this week a few mistakes were made and they ended up costing us a lot of money therefore, we are going to have to extend your probationary period by another week. Having said that, we are really impressed by your enthusiasm and willingness to learn from your mistakes. We are excited to see how you progress.
5. Make that first day on the job ridiculously special for your new employee.
Seriously, pull out all the stops. Heck, throw a party if that’s your company vibe.
What follows, are two examples of a first day on the job for Lynn (our fictional newbie) in a technology firm. As you read them, decide for yourself which employee is more likely to stick out the job for the long haul.
Lynn arrives at 9 eager to start. Unsure of where to go, she makes her way to reception but no one is around to greet her. Lynn decides to sit at reception and wait to be shown what to do next. Half an hour later, two people walk into reception laughing and chatting about their weekend. The phone rings and one of them picks it up whilst the other sits at a desk and turns their pc on. Lynn stands up and approaches the reception desk. Nothing.
After ten minutes, the receptionist puts down the phone and smiles sweetly, “welcome to sucky tech corp, can I help you today”. Lynn explains it’s her first day and she’s not sure where to go. “Take a seat and someone will be with you shortly”. Ten minutes later someone walks into reception and nods at Lynn to follow. Lynn follows and is lead to a desk and the person nods again.
Lynn is left to sit down at her desk where there is a laminated card explaining how to log on to her computer. She logs on and accesses her employee emails. Her first task sits in the inbox…
How about this,
Lynn is called a week before her new role is due to start, it’s the CEO calling to say how thrilled they are that Lynn is starting. The CEO explains to Lynn what to do when she arrives on the first day.
Lynn arrives and, knowing where to go, walks through reception and into the team morning meeting. A banner on the wall reads, “welcome”. There is freshly brewed coffee and pastries and Lynn’s colleagues are beaming.
Lynn spends the day meeting her colleagues, learning about their roles and about the company ethos. No pressure. No expectation. Lots of welcome. Lynn thinks, “I’m home”!
The onboarding process really can make all the difference. Get it right and you are ensuring that:
- Your new employee is far more likely to stay long term
- Your new employee is likely to be more productive
- You are likely to see better results from your new employee’s work
- Your new employee is more likely to feel at home in the team.
It just makes sense to put some time and effort into planning out that journey and ensuring your new staff find the experience of joining your organisation a delight.