As bosses, we get excited when we’ve finally filled a position. We feel our job is done. It’s up to them to be successful. Sink or swim. The problem? Even the best of hires can struggle to acclimate to a new environment without the help and support of their boss.
Onboarding is an extension of the hiring and selection process, which can help ensure a person’s success. A well designed system provides the new hire with an informal and formal approach to learn about their job responsibilities, how to navigate the company culture, and how to interact effectively with their new co-workers, management and customers. While formal programs are easy to put together, it’s the informal ones, which are often the deciding factor, that are challenging. Bosses need to provide proper mentoring (and coaching) options for success. Failure to do so usually means career derailment for both of them.
Hire the right person first time around. No system or boss can fix a person who does not fit the job. Use a hiring and selection system that includes scientifically validated assessment tools. These objective tools take the mystery out of why some people are natural fits for their job responsibilities. It calibrates true willingness to acquire interpersonal, technical, mechanical, enterprising, sales and/or the financial savvy required. These same tools indicate why a new hire may need additional training that you may – or may not – have planned on providing!
Manage the Honeymoon Period. Typically all new hires have an initial period when everything goes well. Then they hit the proverbial wall. The honeymoon’s over. As the boss, you must coach them through the issue(s). Set them up for success by providing specific written results that are expected to be achieved within the first couple of weeks. Outline success indicators to show they are on track. Expand intended results for their first quarter on the job, six months, and one year. Use of a 360-degree tool can also provide additional insights.
Start this Onboarding process on day one of the job. Reiterate what you’ve already said in the hiring interview. New hires may have forgotten key information, or find that their perception wasn’t what you intended. NOW, is the time to get on the same page!
Listen and Learn. The key to successful onboarding is for new hires to listen more than talk! It’s important they learn from different people and ask the same questions of other employees, co-workers, and management. Don’t forget to include vendors and suppliers. The new hire should not offer opinions during this process, but rather, privately offer recommendations to you at first. This will provide you both an opportunity to learn from one another. As the boss, you can help them successfully navigate the corporate structure and learn how to work with and through others to develop successful solutions and relationships within your organization.
Pay particular attention if they seem to believe they already understand how to effectively use your company systems. Just because it worked somewhere else doesn’t mean it will work the same way here. Be sure to check in daily for the first couple of weeks to ensure positive progress is being made. Then, if all is going well, extend check-in’s to once a week.
Provide a mentor or coach. This is a great way to help new people ask questions that can be held in confidence. These same questions, asked of co-workers could inadvertently sabotage the new hire’s success. Be vigilant with new hires who repeatedly find convenient excuses for not meeting with their mentor (or coach). Watch for problems brewing, before they become major issues. Understand new employees can sabotage themselves by not incorporating suggestions or relying upon their experiences and idealistic ideas of how things “should” work. This limited, often erroneous perspective, can get in the way of their success within your company. As their boss, schedule time to have “come down to reality” conversations. Remember, you are their key to success, or career derailment.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2010
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