Recruiters and managers know how difficult it can be to fill an open position with a good hire. A variety of obstacles conspire to make finding the right person seem like searching for a diamond in a big pile of rocks.
Once you find that perfect hire, get them off on the right foot by spending some time strategically plotting your onboarding process.
According to Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation, "Half of all workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of all senior hires fail within 18 months." Much of this can be blamed on ineffective onboarding, hit-and-miss training, and poor indoctrination.
Repeating the same steps of an ineffective onboarding process and continually hiring and replacing employees in the same position is like the movie, Groundhog Day! To avoid that spiral, consider these Do's and Don'ts to successfully onboard your new hires to help lock people in to positions for the long-term.
1. DO create and share a written plan. Meet with the people who will be involved in the ramping-up of a new team member and lay out what you expect each of them to focus on in the training. Make certain that each person commits to the required timeframe of their involvement in bringing the new person up to speed. And outline the key success measures of the new employee's training. Will you be testing them along the way to gauge their progress? However you accomplish it, it's vital to know if the training is complete and on target.
2. DON'T drown new team members in data. A plan is crucial, but don't do a "data dump" on the person on the first day. Create and share a reasonable timeline, letting your new employee soak in and digest valuable pieces of information as they proceed. For example, if your firm has multiple product lines, bring the new person up to speed in your offerings one at a time, allowing time for the learning to sink in. This process may take longer than the fire hose, but your new team member will build understanding more quickly and be less stressed.
3. DO begin onboarding right away. Saying "oh well, they can read the website for a week because I have an important project due" is a disastrous hiring detour. Everyone dreads being left in the dark. Setting a new hire adrift because there isn't time to train is disrespectful and counterproductive, in terms of your goal of building the new person’s value to the organization as quickly as possible. Proper training and education begin on the first hour of the first day of employment.
4. DO offer and highlight ongoing training. Early in the new team member’s indoctrination, show them the clear path forward of continuous education in their career path. This will motivate new employees to focus on learning quickly and is especially critical with Millennials.
5. DON'T leave expectations vague. Simply assuming that a brand new employee understands how you and your organization define success is unfair and dismissive. Job descriptions, performance, goals, and other critical metrics must be shared with new hires as quickly as possible, both verbally and in writing. Don't set yourself up to hear "I didn't know that" six months down the road.
6. DO put the right people in charge. While the success of a new team member is everybody’s business, it needs to be clear who the key point person is in terms of both the onboarding process and the reporting structure. It may be that these two roles are filled by the same person or by different people. Be clear with the new hire as to which it is and who plays what role. Lack of clarity in this can lead to anxiety and frustration for not only the new team member, but for everyone involved.
7. DON'T forget to consistently ask for feedback. Periodically ask specific, open-ended questions about the new person’s experience over time. What do they feel they have learned? How confident are they in their knowledge and what might boost that confidence? What tools would help them progress further? These types of questions keep the lines of communication open and uncover issues early enough so that actions can be taken to improve the situation and keep effective onboarding on track. The feedback also fosters continuous improvement of your onboarding process. Everything you learn from new hires should make the program better for those who follow them.
Of course, the first step to a high performing new team member is to make a great hire. Then, it’s your responsibility to see to it that your onboarding program efficiently trains that great hire to become a highly functioning, productive member of the team. And these DO’s and DON’Ts will maximize your chances of making that happen!