The onboarding plan you haven’t developed

Onboarding is one of the most important processes for new employees in every organization. No matter the size of the organization, the impact of the onboarding process can lead to a happy new employee or a fast leaving one.

 In the beginning of 2019 I’ve met a group of colleagues, working in HR and we had discussion on what really a good onboarding means. This discussion involved HR people from several industries and what I surprisingly witnessed is that most of them didn’t talk about a whole process but were focusing on different steps of the process.

Most of the people involved in the discussion have stated that the onboarding of a new employee starts with the fancy workplace arrangement. They show new employees the equipment that will be used, they show them the socializing areas and arrange a short meeting with the team.

And after all this “hard work” employees are left to their buddies and mentors to learn and adapt.

 Scary, isn’t it…?

Onboarding, by definition, is “The process of integrating a new employee into the organization and its culture.”

And in this definition the keyword is integrating. Integrating someone in a completely new environment does not start at Day 1. It is a long process, starting after the recruited employee has said YES to the company offer.

Imagine you have completed a perfectly planned recruitment process. Offer was accepted without any concerns. And then, the person starts with the company, you present him/her to the team and during the probation period you get his/her notice for leaving.

If this is not familiar to you then you don’t need to read bellow, because you have already structured your onboarding process for positive results.

For others,probably you can find something that can help you improve the process at your organization.

The onboarding process is somehow a process of assimilation and adaptation. To assimilate the new employee and help him/her grow with your organization you need to start the process as early as you can and involve more social elements. Here is the list of steps I follow:

1. Introduce the team before the newcomer Day 1 – Sometimes people feel fooled when they  see the team. There is nothing wrong to sell your organization and culture during the interview process, but if the picture you have described differs a lot from the reality you will probably lose the new employee during the first week.  My advice here is: Be honest during the interview and then propose the potential new team member to meet the colleagues he will work with. Investing that time can look as a delay of the process, but it helps you and the potential new employee to balance between conversation and reality.

2. Eliminate Day 1 jitter – Everyone has had his/her first day at a new company. The day before is What to wear? Who to contact? And so on questions day.  If you have a new employee try to send in advance information about dress code, where to come on the first day, who to search for etc. Giving this information in advance will lower the level of pressure and stress    and will help the newcomer to feel welcomed.

3. Initiate personal welcome – This step is one of the most important for the newcomer in your organization. The simplest thing to do is, as hiring manager, to give a short call to the new employee, expressing  how positive you feel about this person joining your team. If this looks non typical  according to your company culture specifics then you can also write an e-mail. This expression shows interest and engagement and makes the newcomer feel welcomed. The Day 1 personal welcome is also a strong point you should consider. The team manager, or if not possible the mentor or the newcomer buddy should welcome it personally. Meeting someone you know at the door creates positive experience.

4. Day 1 as your social occasion – At Day 1 you must start with instructing the newcomer on how the office politics works. But, a s a manager, you must also think on how you can help the newcomer socialize with others. Organizing short breaks social meetings with other colleagues from the team, or organizing team lunch with some or all colleagues form the team can help a lot in making the newcomer feel welcomed.

Well the first day of instructions is finally off, you did your job on socializing. Now you can let the newcomer live his life and adapt and move to the next project.  – Well if you think that way you will have to think again.

After this first day your newcomer faces the training path he/she must walk through to become a valuable member of the team.

To support this process, you, as a manager, should walk the path with the employee and ensure:

5. Setting clear expectations – This process involves you, as a manager, and the new employee. As a newcomer support your role is to facilitate this process, when needed. You should present to the newcomer the goals for the induction period with reference to materials, people and resources he/she can refer to achieve the results. Important milestone in this discussion is to agree on what a real achievement will mean for the period of induction. Setting a goal also means to think on and define what a positive outcome will look like and how will you measure success.

6. Frequent feedback – Most of the induction programs are falling because of this significant, but often overlooked step. The newcomer is with the company, but he/she brings inside his/her own understanding for progress and achievement, different understanding for productive communication and collaboration. And this is OK, because these have helped him/her in a different environment. To transform this successful outside experience in line with your company cultural framework you should work on structuring a feedback process to ensure that the newcomer won’t be lost during the onboarding journey with you.

Bonus tip: Focus on shorter and specific feedback instead of delivering general feedback at the end.  Do not formalize the process of feedback giving, make it flexible in time and scope. Talk about anything you feel is important with the newcomer.

7. Celebrate achievements – Celebrating requires a frequent activity. Most managers don’t give so much attentions to the small steps the newcomer makes, but the truth is that those small steps are significant jumps in the newcomer mind. What you pin as a structured way is a new discovery for him/her. It Is not necessary to prepare a big celebration party for each successful step in the newcomer learning path, but recognizing efforts and offering small “gifts of recognition” will help you to keep his/her motivation high and increase engagement during the induction period and after.  

What you need to remember:

Trying to execute the above-mentioned steps won’t hurt you. It can only help you to upgrade to a new level of understanding of the most important process in attracting talents ready to support your business growth. The onboarding process I significant factor for employee’s motivation and engagement. The environment and culture you set from the beginning will help you advance through the talents you hire or will make you struggle with your goals by losing valuable talents from your team. It is not the HR person, the office assistant or the CEO who is important in the process. The person that can make or brake the process is you – the manager of the newcomer and the leader structuring successful team for growth.  

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