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A short guide to onboarding

You have made that dream hire. They have signed on the dotted line and now they are sat at their desk looking busy. Job done, right? It is only a matter of time before the team reaps the rewards of having a new member.

Not so fast. You’ll only see the best of the people you hire if you devote time to a comprehensive onboarding process.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process through which a new hire is given all the tools and knowledge to thrive in their role.

Onboarding is all about setting someone up for success, getting them into the very best position from which to launch their career in your organisation. It is just as important as hiring and should never just be seen as an admin item to tick off a list. If you don’t get onboarding right, then you shouldn’t be surprised if three months after hiring someone you’re then having to fire them!

Here are three things to think about when you are building out your onboarding process:

  • Help a new team member to do their role as quickly as possible (think about what tools they need, how others have worked in that position before).
  • Share context and detail about the organisation. This can be achieved through a talk-through of the company’s history and values. Often when a new hire doesn’t understand something, it can be baffling to those already in the office. But you should never compare the new starter with people who have been in the room for a year or two and have a considerable depth of knowledge. Instead, help them brush up on as much insider information as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure that they feel part of the business. This third step in the onboarding process is largely an emotional one. It is all about making sure that the new hire does not feel isolated, and instead feels that the people they will be working with want to get to know them and spend time with them. Small things like taking them out to coffees and lunches during their first few weeks can make a big difference. How comfortable someone is in a room, an office, a team, will affect the quality of work they’re able to do. It allows them to ask better questions and push back. Don’t underestimate that psychological journey!

Tips to ensure a successful onboarding process:

When onboarding a new starter, make sure you have a clear and repeatable process. On one hand, this allows you to give everyone the same sort of onboarding journey, an equal chance. It also gives you something that you can then review and adjust. Having the onboarding process spelled out in a document also lets you delegate more effectively (one person can go for coffee, another will explain all the acronyms).

Employee onboarding should always be a team-wide endeavour and not solely the responsibility of whoever is in charge of ops. Actively share out tasks, so that that the new employee can get an accurate feel for the company as a whole.

Make sure you are using some kind of system. This can be a software like CharlieHR or a simple spreadsheet. Such a system helps guarantee that nothing gets missed and that you can track your progress over the course of the process.

Think about what other assets could be created to offer value to all new starters. This could be a compilation of important historical emails sent from the company to key holders. This gives the new hire both a sense of the history of the organisation that they are joining as well as practical examples of the work being done there.

Make introductions as soon as possible. The new starter should have met all the relevant figure from across the organisation on their first day. Key stakeholders and colleagues should all be visible for the new hire.

Ensure you get feedback from the new hire at the end of the process (once they have started doing their job at full capacity) and learn from their onboarding experience.

Troubleshooting:

It is not worthing risking an unsuccessful onboarding process. If you get it wrong, the new employee won’t be able to perform their role properly and as a result business targets are less likely to be met.

When someone starts at the company, it is important that everyone is fully committed to them succeeding. It is all too easy to forget this if someone slips up early on or there are signs that the person isn’t quite the employee you thought you were hiring. Set expectations correctly and don’t rush anyone. You should always look to give someone three months before they have to be doing their job at the expected level. Many employees will get there sooner, but you shouldn’t hold it against someone if they don’t.  Questioning their performance and adjustment too early on will only have negative ripple effects and tarnish the rest of the onboarding process.

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