Congratulations! You have found your new hire and are ready to bring them into the workplace. For the new hire, this can be the most daunting experience in the entire process. If you have been trusted with onboarding an employee, you may be just as nervous.
Today, we will be looking at some key principles to follow when onboarding your new hire.
Onboarding, when done right, is more than just showing a new hire their responsibilities. Onboarding is abut instilling your organization’s values. Onboarding involves coaching them until they can contribute confidently to your team’s success.
The dangers of sink or swim
All too often, companies rely on a sink or swim approach to onboarding. This approach is especially common in hectic workplaces, where trainers feel they can use the chaos to justify a less involved approach. Unfortunately, this approach can be an express lane to employee burnout. This burnout then leads to more time sunk into re-hiring and re-training.
Keep in mind that the bare minimum of training does not get you out of sink or swim territory. A hasty introduction to all aspects of the job can leave even the best note-takers at a loss. You may think that your explanations make perfect sense, but that could be a result of your own bias.
The knowledge blinders
One of the biggest handicaps for many trainers is, oddly enough, their wealth of knowledge. In many cases, the more you comprehend, the less comprehensible you can be to outsiders.
Have you ever been in a conversation where you felt out of your depth? Maybe you are talking with a group of people about a sport with which you are unfamiliar. Maybe you are nodding along while a mechanic tells you what is wrong with your car, but not absorbing anything.
You may not be aware of it, but what seems like common sense to you may be completely alien to someone else. This curse of knowledge can even be a source of tension between departments in your own organization.
The first step to becoming a better teacher is to understand how your knowledge can limit you. Try to see through the eyes of your new hire.
If you are having trouble, try practicing some of the more difficult lessons with employees outside of your department. Get their feedback on what works and what does not work in your approach.
Setting the right tone
Right out of the gate, get on the same page with your new hire. You need to let them know that their own education is top priority for now. Remember to
• encourage questions
• tell them to take detailed notes
• slow down and repeat yourself as needed
• ask them if they need anything clarified
Above all else, let them know that they are in a grace period. Mistakes happen, and what is most important is that they feel comfortable coming to you with any mistakes or uncertainties.
Using a checklist
This is a simple but often overlooked bit of advice: keep a detailed checklist of what you want to cover with your new hire. This is especially important if you are hiring during a busy time.
In a perfect world, your workload would be slow enough to accommodate your added training responsibilities. In reality, your new hire may have to pitch in with regular responsibilities before their training has been completed.
Unfortunately, new hires can get lost in these responsibilities. As a result, onboarding takes an indefinite backseat. This can result in employees with a year or more of experience having significant, avoidable gaps in their knowledge.
A checklist can help you keep track of what you have already covered and ensure that interruptions do not completely derail onboarding. The checklist should be detailed enough to guide you through each topic without missing key bits of information.
Setting realistic benchmarks
Your onboarding should last at least six months. While you will not spend all of this time training, your new hire will still need time to catch up with the rest of their team and fill in any knowledge gaps that may exist after their initial training.
Before you begin onboarding, set out benchmarks for your new hire’s first six months. What metrics do you have available to measure their success? How well should they be doing a month in? Three months in? Six months in?
Performance appraisals should never be a formality. They are an important part of measuring and improving the performance of your workers. They are a chance for you to recognize achievements and mentor those who are struggling.
Once your new hire completes the onboarding process, use performance appraisals as a chance to keep on top of their development. Get their perspective on the job’s challenges and offer them constructive feedback on their performance.