Don’t Ruin Your New Hire! 10 Tips to Onboarding a New Hire the Right Way
You’ve probably heard the saying, “There’s nothing more expensive than a bad hire.”Being the business coach to thousands of companies over the past 20 years has proven to me that there’s a lot of truth to this old adage. But what’s surprising is how many business owners unintentionally ruin their chances when onboarding a new hire.
Below you’ll find the 10 concrete tips that my company, Maui Mastermind, developed for our coaching clients to help them set up their new hires to win.
Whether you take one or two of these tips to apply in your business or grab all of them, not only will your onboarding of new hires be much more successful, but you’ll also discover that you suddenly become much more successful at “hiring”.
And when you do, remember that much of your new found hiring success rate will actually be the direct result of what you do in the first 90 days post hiring.
- Before you even hire, create a draft, written onboarding and orientation plan for how you’ll optimally bring that new hire on board.
What will their first day look like? Their first week? Their first month?
Who will they meet with and what topics will they discuss?
How will you orient them on their responsibilities? The team they’ll work with? The company culture? The market you serve? Your products and services? Your internal company systems?
Notice I said create a draft plan. At this point you don’t need a fancy, 20-page detailed document. Just the fact that you invest 30-60 minutes before you hire thinking through how you’ll bring your new hire onboard is enough at this point.
- Use your time spend roughing out your orientation plan as an opportunity to enhance your interviewing and selection process.
Yes you get double duty out of your time spent thinking on orienting your future new hire – it will give you a more concrete sense of exactly who you need to hire.
Talk about the onboarding and orientation process with your finalists for the position. Solicit their input and feedback about how they think they could best be onboarded.
One very big side benefit you’ll gain from this is it will subtly convey to your candidate pool that you’ve got your act together and are a well-run company, and hence a great place to work.
- Have all the infrastructure set up before your new hire starts so that they walk in to a powerful first “golden hour” of their first day on the job.
What is the typical company’s plan with a new hire? They show up to work that first morning, as excited and nervous as they’ll ever be, only to waste that gold opportunity spending a few numbing hours filling our HR paperwork. Then sitting in a cubicle waiting for a day or two for their phone to be turned on, their email account to be redied, and their access to the company intranet to be established.
Instead imagine Jill’s first day on the job at your company like this:
Jill shows up at 8:30 a.m. and is warmly greeted at the door by you and Carla, her immediate supervisor. You both then call the team together for a quick huddle to introduce Jill.
As part of that introduction you continue a long-standing company tradition of handing a gift wrapped box to Jill, who opens it to discover a lovely leather business card case, with Jill’s company business cards inside.
The team cheers their newest team member, then heads back to their respective work stations to get on with their days.
Meanwhile, Jill is floored, and emotionally moved. She’s never had this kind of welcome when starting a new job before. She feels valued and important, and what’s more, she feels determined not to let any of her new team members down.
You turn to Jill and say, “You’re in great hands with Carla, your mentor here at Acme Inc. Carla is one of key people and will be in leading your orientation. I’ll be joining you and Carla for lunch later today and can’t wait to hear what you’ve learned and how your first day is going over lunch.”
With that, Carla leads Jill off to the conference room to start the clear and organized orientation process.
I could go on, but I think you get the point I’m trying to make. The way you bring on your new team member that first golden day makes a difference. It sets a mood and standard.
Not only do you want her to feel immediately welcome, but you want to concretely show her this by having her phone, email, passwords, etc. all set up before Jill ever showed up for work that first day.
After all, at Acme Inc., you respect your employees’ time. What kind of message would it have sent to Jill and to your other team members if you did it the “normal” way – leaving Jill to sit around waiting for a few hours or days to have the basic tools she needed to be a productive part of the team?
- To help you flesh out your initial training and orientation process, start with the job description itself.
Use the job description as a checklist and lay out a timeline of how you’ll orient your new hire on each of the key responsibilities.
- With each new hire, refine your orientation process so that it becomes better, faster, easier, and more consistent.
This is made easier because 50-70% of any new hire’s orientation will likely be standard across positions in the company.
- Early on, get your new hires to help you document and improve your orientation process.
This is a trick I learned as I scaled companies in the past. Until you have a refined and proven orientation process, make it a stated responsibility of your new hire to take such good notes that he or she can invest 30-60 minutes after each training component to better flesh out the existing orientation documentation.
Not only will this make your system better for the next hire, but it will help your new hire pay closer attention and learn the key information at a deeper level since they will be placed in the role of “teacher”, not just student.
- Give your new hire the “day in the life” experience of your customer.
This will give them an immediate context with which to make sense of the orientation training you’ve given them. It will also help them connect their work to the real value they’re creating directly or indirectly for your customers.
- Break your training into smaller modules.
Don’t try to do a 3 hour marathon session, break your orientation down into 30-60-90 minute blocks, with breaks between to meet more of your staff, to get a tour of the office, and to get a rough start doing some meaningful but simple work for the company.
This takes more thought than just flooding your new hire with hour after hour of information and dumping them back at their desk to “get to work”, but the results are worth it.
- Check back in with your new hire on a regular basis over the first 90 days of hire.
This can be with a formal meeting, a scheduled meal, or even just an informal drop in visit to their workstation.
I suggest that you actually put these “check-ins” on your orientation checklist that lays out the whole orientation process you go through. Over time you can actually document key talking points for each check-in, not to make things robotic, after all you’re perfectly capable of improvising, but rather to make sure that you’ve given your best thought as to the optimal way a new team member is brought on board and use these check-ins to ensure that this process is going smoothly.
Consider having a self-scoring component for your new hire to use to evaluate how she thinks she is doing learning the key responsibilities of her new position. Also have her direct manager use that self-scoring tool as a coaching opportunity at regular check points during the first 90 days of hire.
- Get feedback from your new team member on how he or she thinks the orientation process could be improved for future team members.
At your check-ins, while it is still fresh in the mind of your new hire, ask them for their “liked bests” and “next times” to improve the orientation process. How would they make it more impactful? Faster? Easier? More engaging?
Not only will you get valuable feedback, but you’ll establish the clear tone that Acme Inc. you value employee input and expect them to speak their mind.
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