It’s summertime and for many organizations, this means a slight increase in the workforce. I had the pleasure of running into a client this weekend and learned her business has grown about 15% this year and will probably increase by another 10-15% this month.
After exchanging the basics about her business’ growth, the conversation turned to Onboarding. When there is a lot of hiring, the amount of information exchanged shoots up. And when there is a lot of information exchanged, a company can easily build, or damage, its brand.
Onboarding is more than just orientation!
The word onboarding is not synonymous with orientation nor should it be considered something as simple as making some introductions and ensuring the new employee has a lunch date. Onboarding is a combination of processes and activities that can demonstrate you care about employee contentment, commitment and performance.
In addition to things like paperwork, formalized orientation, training, etc., Onboarding includes things such as:
1) Intentional introduction of roles and responsibilities
- One-on-one review of and discussion about the job description
- Discussion about a typical day and frank exchange of typical hurdles
- Meeting with whole team about performance standards and allowing current employees to talk about the “why” and the “how”
- Exchange of ideas re: what the employee can do immediately, when the employee might need some “hand holding,” and when he/she might need some formalized planning/preparation
2) Introduction to staff, colleagues, customers, etc.
Perhaps you can ask the new employee how he/she would like to meet everyone.
- Walk around (do in small bits)
- Go to lunch with colleague or groups, share a coffee break, etc.
- Have a meeting in which you help facilitate the mutual exchange of roles, ideas and competencies
- Shadow you or others at a sales call, meeting or event
- Attend other program “meetings” wherein you introduce and empower him/her
3) Creation of work space
Nothing says “you’re not that important” like a cubby or office that hasn’t been prepared. In my opinion, discounting office environment issues demonstrates an ignorance and/or complacency re: communication. (Physical environment acts as nonverbal communication and, as such, carries over 50% of the message communicated to the new employee.)
A messy workstation, one that doesn’t have basic resources stocked, or one that still looks as if it belongs to someone else will counteract any verbal affirmation you give an employee on his/her first day.
4) Communication of culture, sub culture, “unwritten” rules, etc.
Hopefully, your recruiter helped pave the way in this regard but you need to take it from there.
- Exchange information about policies and procedures that are different or more specific to your team than what would have been covered in orientation
- Offer information about any idiosyncrasies, office politics, etc. (Please note, I recommend you tread carefully here – any subjective opinions can easily manipulate or taint the message. It’s important to let the new employee think for his/herself.)
- Tell stories
In addition to the above processes, may I suggest that you engage in these activities:
1) Don’t let the new employee be a stranger on the first day.
It’s so much easier to officially meet someone when someone has paved the way. Take a brief moment to:
- Send an email introduction to the new employee with a cc: to your staff a few days prior to the first day.
- Let the front desk person know about the new employee to ensure “who are you?” doesn’t happen.
- Use social media to introduce and connect the new employee to your team, your vendors, etc.
2) Think beyond the first day or first week.
Socialization takes time; demonstrate a commitment to your employee by scheduling time the first week, the second week, and beyond. You’ll know when the employee no longer needs you to check in but don’t stop until such time.
3) Seek input.
- Ask the employee how the Onboarding process is going.
- Invite feedback about your and your team’s efforts and do something with this information!
4) Delegate effectively.
You may not be the best person to engage in some Onboarding activities so delegate accordingly! (Don’t delegate to the person who has the most time on his/her hands…there may be a good reason for that! The last thing you need is a mediocre or substandard employee mentoring, training, or engaging with a new employee.)
Challenge the best of the best and delegate some of the Onboarding activities to them.
In summary, I believe Onboarding should be personal and intentional. Many Onboarding activities can be standardized and streamlined but keep this in mind: personalized activities scream, “you’re worth it” – and that’s a good compliment to your brand.