Let’s face it, hiring managers: Onboarding a new employee is a tall order. Its importance is acknowledged by most, but busy managers often struggle with providing a solid experience for their newest team members.
I know, I can get a little preachy with hiring managers sometimes…like here, here and here (to name a few!). But today, I’m giving you all some love. I know you’re busy – I’m a manager at the day job, too. I know how many directions a manager is pulled. I know what challenges you face when bringing a new employee onboard.
Here are 5 of those challenges, and a few thoughts on how to overcome them:
1. Challenges with role clarity – both their own understanding and the new employee’s understanding.
When bringing a new employee to the team, it is important to review the job description with a fine-toothed comb. Is it current and accurate? If not, clarify the specific duties and responsibilities for the new employee so it can be clear during the interview process, and openly discussed upon hire. Ask the new employee questions about his/her understanding of the role, and engage in early, frequent dialog about it.
2. Challenges with setting expectations.
Over-communicate with your new employee. Devote ample time to meet with the new employee, and make an effort to discuss your expectations for everything – communication, meeting cadence/frequency, involvement, working hours, tasks, performance and results. But it doesn’t stop there – ASK your new team member what his/her expectations are for his relationship with you, the direct supervisor. It’s a two-way street – the sooner you start talking about expectations, the sooner you’ll find yourselves on the same page and in a partnership of trust and open communication.
3. Challenges with being too busy.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…there it is again. The Busy Excuse. In spite of the busy-ness, it is imperative that a manager spend plenty of time building a relationship with a new employee. If this doesn’t happen, the onboarding process (and ultimately the success of the new employee) is at risk.
The truth is, you don’t have time NOT to provide a sufficient onboarding experience for your new employee.
The good news? It doesn’t all have to happen in person. It doesn’t even have to fall entirely on YOU as the manager. Here are a few tips for busy managers:
- Find a consistent, regular time to meet – during the first week, this should be at least once daily
- If face-to-face meetings don’t always work, due to travel, remote locations or other reasons, leverage collaboration favorites like Yammer, Skype, conference calls, IM, or other tools to make connecting easy
- Delegate some of the communication to others on your team – hook the new employee up to an “onboarding buddy” for the first few weeks
- Use checklists or other job aids to ensure that important components of the process don’t fall through the cracks!
4. Challenges with the rest of the team embracing change.
Inevitably, when a new person comes onboard, the dynamic of the team changes. This can be particularly true if the new employee is in a leadership role, or if an existing team member interviewed for the position, but did not get the job. Stay ahead of the change from the moment the new position is posted – be communicative. Changes within an organization are more widely embraced when the team is built on a strong foundation. As the manager of the team, set the new employee up for success by creating a welcoming environment. Talk about the changes before the new employee arrives; discuss any apprehensiveness and answer questions, then involve the existing team in preparing for his/her arrival:
- Enlist someone with organizing a team lunch or social activity during the new employee’s first week
- Get assistance with training on job duties or department procedures
- Ask someone to be the “onboarding buddy” or mentor for the first few weeks
- Have everyone sign a welcome card or email a team “selfie” photo to the new employee prior to his/her first day…be positive about the change!
5. Challenges with communicating the company and department culture to the new employee.
As managers, we’re often really good at communicating the cut-and-dry topics: policies, procedures, tasks, projects. Step one, do this. Step two, do that.
The squishier topics are harder to explain: culture, vision, mission, values. The unspoken pulse of the organization.
How do you make those squishy topics come alive for a new employee? Simple. You live the squishy topics.
Be deliberate – tell the new employee, “This is HOW we impact the company mission statement,” “This is HOW we impact the customer experience,” — and ASK the new employee his opinion on how s/he thinks s/he can embody those characteristics in his/her new role. Make it an open conversation. And if you’ve never had that deliberate conversation with your existing employees, this would be an ideal time to initiate it with everyone!
There you go, hiring managers. 5 onboarding challenges, and some practical solutions for overcoming them. It’s your responsibility to provide a positive, nurturing environment for your new employees. Will you accept the challenge?
Your turn: Hiring managers, what have been your biggest challenges when onboarding a new employee? How have you overcome those challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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Onboarding Rules for Hiring Managers….the workshop!
Bring phase(two)learning to your organization to deliver the Onboarding Rules for Hiring Managers workshop! Partial and full-day session options are available. This workshop is the perfect supplement for any management training program…send an email to learn more!