Onboarding a new employee or intern is a process that deserves plenty of serious consideration. Do it wrong, and you’ll spend a lot of unnecessary time and energy correcting problems and re-training, assuming that your new hire stays on long enough to give you the chance. But do it right and you’ll add a confident, fully-equipped hire to your team.
Develop an onboarding process
This is not the time to “wing it.”
- By the time your new arrives at the office on day 1, she should have already received necessary paperwork, access to company payroll and email interfaces, and links to helpful websites.
- Your staff should know somebody new is joining the team well ahead of time, so they can be welcoming and provide plenty of assistance during those crucial first weeks. Send around an email with some background info and don’t be shy about asking important key folks for extra help.
- Provide a specific agenda to your new hire that outlines what these first few weeks will look like. Include active training opportunities and meetings, a list of important phone numbers and email addresses, and a list of frequently asked questions.
Set reasonable expectations
Tensions run high during the first week weeks and months of a new job. Your new hire is nervous, excited, and eager to please. She’s also completely confused, overwhelmed, and probably not getting much sleep. Let her know early on when she can expect her first evaluation and what, precisely, you’ll be evaluating. Set serious expectations and demand hard work, but be reasonable and flexible and anticipate bumps in the road during this first stage of employment. Show your team how to lead with flexibility and encouragement.
Provide a steady stream of feedback
- If you have concerns or constructive criticism, by all means provide that information early in the game. But strike a balance by leading with positive feedback. Compare these two statements: “Alex, we want to see those sales numbers doubled next month!” “Alex, you’re shaping up to be a sales superstar! At this rate, we expect to see you double these numbers next month!”
- Make sure new hires are challenged. The first few weeks aren’t the time for people to flounder at their desks or on the sales floor, observing and standing around. Make sure that there is always a job to do, even if it’s taking notes during a meeting or sitting in on a call to see how things are done. Ask your new hire to do something challenging, and then provide timely feedback, remembering to lead with that positive reinforcement even if things are rough.
With the right leadership, any new hire can quickly be brought up to speed and add value and strength to your team.