Dear Hiring Manager,
Monday morning, your new employee will be walking through the front door of your company, eager to begin his new job on your team. How much time have you invested in planning his onboarding?
Yes, you. How much time have YOU spent planning his onboarding?
Notice I didn’t ask how much time Human Resources has spent planning his onboarding. Chances are, HR knows what to do. Whoever is responsible for managing the Orientation process likely has a plan in place for your new employee…and any other new employees who are starting on Monday. Hopefully, your new employee will get an introduction to the company, as well as general information that will help him begin to become integrated with the organization.
But what about becoming integrated with your team? Or integrated with his new role? I’m willing to bet that all new employees will receive a similar, if not identical, orientation experience. This is where you step in, dear Hiring Manager.
You are the most important component for the new employee to achieve success and become an involved part of the team. You are the link that will help the new employee build relationships with colleagues, stakeholders, and vendors. You are the mentor that will guide the new employee in setting goals and
meeting exceeding expectations!
You might not be a trainer, by trade. The thought of “training” a new employee may sound like the least exciting thing you could possibly do. In fact, you might have delegated training new employees to someone on your team, or maybe you have a dedicated trainer on your staff that takes care of it. For task, system, and process-related duties, that’s fine – and quite honestly, these people are probably better at communicating those details. But please don’t neglect the dozens of conversations your new employee needs to be having with you – his leader, his mentor. These conversations should include:
- Day-to-day expectations – schedules/working hours, policies and guidelines, communication preferences
- Current and upcoming projects the employee will be involved with or leading
- Explaining the employee’s – and the department’s – role in the organization, and how the roles interact with other people and teams
- Introducing the employee to others – help the new employee forge alliances!
- Help the employee set performance goals for the first 30, 60, and 90 days…are they SMART goals? Do they align with departmental and organizational goals?
Take a good look at these bullet points. It’s safe to say that your company’s HR specialist or Learning & Development practitioner isn’t the ideal person to facilitate these conversations. It’s not part of “Orientation”…and it really shouldn’t be. “Orientation” and “onboarding” are two different things. Orientation will help your new employee begin to understand more about the company he joined. A solid orientation program will make sure the basics are taken care of; but it is up to you, Hiring Manager, to ensure that the employee becomes integrated with the team YOU lead, and that he has the tools he needs to successfully do his job. Orientation is an event. Onboarding is a process.
There are a number of people involved in the successful start of a new employee’s journey, but I can’t think of one more important than you. Be there on your employee’s first day. Be there physically. Be there emotionally. Be there proactively. Anticipate the employee’s needs. Be consistent with all of your new employees.
The success, engagement, and loyalty of your new employee begins with you, and the amount of effort you put into his onboarding. “Sink or swim” doesn’t work. Even a 20-year expert in your industry is still “new” on his first day. It will take time before he is a fully contributing member of the team. You must accept that.
In an earlier post, I’ve provided a number of conversation starters for new employees to be asking their managers. Take a look at it. Make a plan. Be the manager you’d like to work for.
And, for the love of all that is holy, take your new employee to lunch on his first day. No one wants to be the lonely new kid in the cafeteria.
Michelle (and new employees everywhere)