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Ten tips for onboarding a new hire

Onboarding a new hire
Jill Wells
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Hiring, onboarding, and finding the right talent are some of the most important and expensive things a company can do.

On the flip side, this process will be the first impression of your company that will set the precedent for any new hire’s role. Therefore, you must do it right and facilitate positive employee integration into the company culture. Here are ten tips for onboarding your new hire that will ensure a positive and productive onboarding experience.

1. Set clear expectations

Proper onboarding starts with clear and communicated expectations. Initial expectations should be covered in your very first onboarding meeting and is crucial in preparing for a new role. When setting expectations, outline the goals for both the employee’s onboarding, their first 90 days, and your overall goals for the role itself. This practice will set a strong precedent for goal tracking and communication from the beginning and ensure that employee onboarding is successful.

2. Make a schedule

One of the biggest challenges of being a new hire is knowing what to do and where to be. Regardless of if you work remotely or in person, having a schedule for at least day one and, ideally, week one can reduce your new employee's anxiety and get them onboarded much more efficiently. You hired this person for a reason, so the sooner they can get up to speed, the better off your team will be, and a schedule will ensure your new hire always has something to do. This is especially important if you are onboarding a remote employee, as, without proper direction, it can be easy to get lost.

3. Prepare a list of tasks beforehand

A key step to preparing for a new role is to devise a list of the logistics and tasks beforehand. This involves all the tools, software, paperwork, etc., that your new hire will need to do. By preparing this beforehand, you can schedule this logistical work throughout the week and be sure to avoid overloading them on the first day with paperwork, which is a bad way to integrate them into the company culture.

4. Utilize shadowing or the buddy system

For many roles, the best way to onboard is through the age-old practice of observational learning. This can be done by setting up your new hire with a mentor, or buddy, or utilising shadowing. Shadowing is particularly effective in roles with a lot of informal knowledge and fewer documented procedures. Sales remain a good example of this, where many of the best examples of objection handling and conversation are done on-the-fly.

5. Give them space to voice ideas

One of the most intimidating things to do as a new hire is voice ideas, and yet outside ideas and perspectives are a very important part of employee integration. A great way to facilitate this is to always leave space in a meeting for the new hire to raise questions, thoughts, or concerns. A simple “anything to add?” can go a long way and will encourage your new hire to participate in meetings moving forward.

6. Be available

The best onboarding facilitates a lot of questions, and it’s likely your new hire will be brimming with questions, thoughts, ideas, and more. The best thing you can do to encourage this healthy behaviour is to be available for answers. Take the time to answer your messages and emails, and be available for quick calls or meetings as needed. A great way to do this is to host informal office hours, where you keep your door open or, if you’re remote, your zoom room or equivalent running. That way, your new hire can hop on whenever they need anything or have questions.

7. Set up a 1-on-1 with a key decision-maker or executive

One of the most empowering and inspiring things you can do for a new employee during induction is set up a 1-on-1 with a key decision-maker or executive. If your company is small enough, this could even be the CEO. Even just a 30-minute casual call with a company leader can give the new hire the chance to ask questions and get behind the company's mission, values, and goals. This can also be a great chance for a new hire to learn how to be successful at your company and be able to hear it from the top.

8. Introduce them to the company culture

Employee integration is a very important part of any induction process. The most successful companies have thriving cultures, and you want to make sure your new hire participates and adds to the culture instead of sitting on the sidelines. The first few days of this are crucial, and it is strongly recommended that you take the time to introduce your new hire to other staff. This also applies to members outside of their immediate department, as this can promote cross-functional collaboration.

9. Debrief

An often overlooked part of preparing for a new role is frequent debriefs, especially during the first week. Studies have shown that debriefs increase engagement, retention of information, and employee integration in a positive way. A great way to schedule debriefing sessions is a quick 15-20 minute debrief each day for the first week or so of work. Then a once-per-week debrief meeting for the next 90 days can be an effective way to keep employees engaged and improving.

10. Let them make mistakes

Letting new hires makes mistakes is one of the hardest balancing acts on employee integration and onboarding. Even if you think you know the right answer, make sure to still give room to your employees to figure it out themselves, as this will save time and improves outcomes and creativity in the long run. Giving employees the freedom to make mistakes is a crucial part of growth. However, you need to be sure that they won’t cause any lasting harm. The best way to manage this is by encouraging fast failure so that employees who make mistakes quickly have the chance to correct them and pivot.

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