It’s late on a Friday afternoon, tomorrow you have a day off scheduled (finally!). You kick back in your chair after receiving the phone call you had been hoping for — the new sales manager you have been recruiting just accepted your offer. Life is good and you can enjoy your weekend! She starts in a couple of weeks and you know she will hit the ground running – just get her here, show her the office, and get out of her way! She’s a go-getter with a great track record, and you know she is the perfect fit. Yep, your work is done on this one. . . .Wrong, wrong, wrong!
As any experienced manager knows, hiring the right person is simply the first step to a productive employer-employee relationship. What you do both before and after the hire will have a huge impact on whether you have an employee who “delivers the goods” or whether you lose them in a few months out of frustration — yours and/or theirs! With the war for high-quality talent raging, and great hires more difficult to find all the time, the idea of “onboarding” new employees has likely never been more important. “New employee” here can also mean an existing employee moving into a new position.) What steps can you take as a manager to make sure that the great new hire is launched successfully in your operation? We’ll take a careful look at the question in this month’s Manager’s Notebook.
Before you hire
We won’t spend much time on this as we have written on the topic of hiring before (see Manager’s Notebook “Finding Great Employees: Winning the Battle for Talent” October/November 2006). But, if you don’t have a well developed job description for the position you are hiring, no onboarding strategy will work. Your new employee will have the wrong expectations. You and your staff will have the wrong expectations. Right person, wrong job is a recipe for a quick exit and a lot of frustration. A well developed job description, along with a carefully developed set of capabilities and characteristics you are looking for in your new hire will go a long way toward making sure you have the right person and that everyone is on the same page as the new hire joins your organization.
As an aside here, don’t forget the role internships can play with younger talent. Working with a young man or woman, in high school, community college, or college, can give them, and you, a trial run — telling you much about whether or not the person will be a good fit for your company, and vice versa for the intern.
What does a new hire need to know?
OK, your new hire will start in a couple of weeks. You will give her an hour upfront, she will spend the morning with some of the other sales team members, and then she’ll tour the facilities. Next day, get out of her way! Of course, we know this form of “new employee training program” is more typical than we want to admit. The “data dump” approach is quick, easy, and in general, very ineffective. But, we also understand the realities that drive us to such “one day training programs.” Who has time for coaching, mentoring, or even thinking about what an onboarding program should look like? We would argue that given the challenges involved in finding great people, we can’t afford not to take onboarding seriously. And, that means much more than a one day data dump training program.
Start by thinking through what the new hire needs to know. Some of this will be really obvious: Who are her direct reports? Who are key customers? What are the reporting relationships? What are the important company policies, etc.? But, it is important to get these things down on paper — once captured, you can use the list again in the future. Also, think through this employee’s background.
Are there important gaps that need to be addressed? For instance, is this person a first-time supervisor? Maybe a people management/supervision course is in order.