Next, give some thought to who should be involved in onboarding your employee. In some cases, the answer will be obvious: your accountant, your safety manager, etc. In other cases, it may take more thought. Do you want to structure a formal mentoring relationship for your new employee? If so, who should be the mentor? What expectations do you have of that mentor? Does he or she have the training and personality it takes to be a successful mentor? Make assignments and make sure those involved in the onboarding program understand their role. And, recognize that such “training” takes time away from normal duties. A modest bonus, or a thank you will go a long way in helping your staff take this role seriously and sending the message that you value their service.
Revisit those special circumstances you outlined earlier. How will you address/help your new employee address these? You personally may need to spend some time paving the way in cases where a new employee is replacing a long-time, favored staff member or some other similar circumstance exists. Of course, your new hire ultimately has to deliver, but she at least deserves a fighting chance.
Finally, what about your role in the onboarding process? What can you do to make sure this new employee understands your organization and gets off to a great start? Helping your new employee understand your culture, helping her understand where the rough spots are likely to be, showing genuine interest in her success, investing some personal time to check back on the employee — all of these can go a long way in helping an employee get off and running.
Give them some time – then follow-up
As mentioned above, so much is “thrown” at a new employee in a short period of time that it can be overwhelming. Many employees and their employers find it helpful to schedule a session six to nine months after the new hire starts to discuss how things are going, address any questions and review what their new employees should be learning. Some employers hire an employee with some sort of “probationary” period — typically three or six months. This period can have a definitive status to it if you as the employer desire — meaning that you truly evaluate a probationary employee and decide whether to continue to employ them or not. However, many employers just utilize this period to signify that the employee is learning the job, and provides an opportunity to meet, ask questions and air concerns.
Finally, give some careful thought to your expectations for the new employee. In some cases, a few weeks may be enough to get the employee up to speed and to see real impact. For some jobs, maybe in more senior management positions, it may take a full year to really master the role. Give some thought to where this employee should be in terms of customer visits, training attended, sales, plans developed, goals set, etc. at different points in time. Periodically reviewing these milestones and taking remedial action early can help catch issues and put that new employee back on track. At the same time, we know that while it takes time to get up to speed, market realities are just that, market realities; you can’t wait forever for an employee to deliver — the individual must hold up their end of the bargain.
If all of this sounds like work, it is! But we all know just how much work also goes into the hiring process and the uncertainty it brings. Investing in a carefully designed onboarding process can give that prized new hire every opportunity for success. In today’s battle for talent, the investment in onboarding is one well worth making.