So you’ve hired the right person. You’re so excited to have them join the team and you know they’re going to be a great fit.
And then… it falls flat. They’re not as motivated as you thought they’d be, mistakes keep happening, you’re getting frustrated and they don’t last 6 months before resigning saying ‘I got a better offer somewhere else’
What the hell just happened?
Well… the most likely diagnosis is your Onboarding sucks.
It’s not enough to find the right person for the job, you have to work damn hard as a manager to engage them, help them learn, and get them started off right.
And no I’m obviously not against ‘self starters’... but in my experience that’s not actually a thing. ‘Self Starters’ only look great when they have the right systems, team and management in place to be able to hit the ground running.
Here’s the top 6 ways I’ve seen companies and teams do this exceptionally well:
1 - Prepare, prepare, prepare
You have invested significant time and money already in this person before they even walked in the door. Even if you didn’t have any costs in recruitment, your time is incredibly valuable, so reviewing resumes and then interviewing people is a huge investment.
Do not waste it. Take another chunk of time to prepare for their first day. Come up with a schedule of activities, write out clear goals and milestones, communicate with your other employees, clients or suppliers about this new person and what their role will be. Whatever can be written out ahead of time and organized before they start, make that happen.
And my biggest one - TALK to them before they join. Email them to stay in touch. Call them the day or two before they join to let them know the little things people stress about - things like what to wear, when to show up, what to expect. This will go a long way to having them in the right mindframe on day 1 to dig in.
2 - Automate, document and streamline EVERYWHERE possible
If at any point you’re uttering the words ‘just ask me if you need to know about…’ then you’re already setting yourself up for issues.
Everything that can be written down, should be. Everything that can be explained via a recording or accessed in a central location, should be. Automate, streamline and document EVERYTHING possible.
Stop relying on you being available when they have a question. You’re busy, there’s a reason you needed to hire someone.
(And the good news is the more things are documented and accessible, the less time and energy you need to spend just answering simple questions to this new hire and any future ones - and the more time you have to get back to what you do best.)
3 - Clarity
I am begging you, please DO NOT assume your new person knows what they should be working on and what ‘good work’ looks like.
I don’t care if they’re your new Marketing Director or your cashier at your shop location, you HAVE to be able to articulate to them what they should be working on both short and long term, as well as what being successful in this role would look like.
4 - Manage Expectations (yours and theirs!)
Being a strong performing member of a team takes time. Set realistic expectations for yourself and for your new team member on their learning curve. Give clearly written goals and milestones for them to work towards.
Also set expectations around HOW you will work together. Personally I can’t stand being interrupted so I set times in the day that I have ‘office hours’ for chats, questions or just follow up on work. That way I know I will be in the right frame of mind to connect and help rather than being annoyed and trying to get them off the phone as soon as possible. Don’t leave it up to trial and error - actually talk up front about the HOW of working together.
5 - Relationships and Trust
Make building a relationship with your new hire, as well as their relationship with co-workers, a top priority. I know this seems like the ‘fluffy’ one on the list, but studies have shown time and time again how vital it is for people to feel they have real friendships at work, regardless of the industry or role.
Have a lunch out their first week. Assign them a mentor who checks in with them everyday. Have a real conversation with them about something outside of day to day work. Give time and space to create real relationships at work - again it’s a great investment of time and energy.
6 - Check In!
You are busy. Schedule time in your calendar before they even start, and inform them of the dates and times of these check ins, to just sit down and look at the bigger picture of how it’s going. Don’t leave it to chance that you’ll ‘chat when you’re both free’, because that day will NEVER come.
I get this list seems long, but I promise if you invest the time up front, you are saving a whole bundle of headaches, time and energy drains and ‘feedback sessions’ in a couple months time.
Think of it as an investment.
What do you think of this list? What are you going to try?