Onboarding is key to new employee success
By Dean Fulford, CHRL
Organizations strive to build an environment where employees are engaged: they are productive in their work and committed to the vision and goals of the organization.
Building engagement starts right away when an employee is hired.
Let’s think of it in business terms. In order to accelerate growth (and at the same time operating in a fiscally responsible manner) organizations are strategically filling roles where the need and impact will be greatest. With this importance in mind, new hires must be prepared to hit the ground running.
Unfortunately, many organizations have no formal onboarding practice and that new hire is given little direction or guidance. If new hires are left to “figure things out” for themselves, their engagement may lessen and they will struggle to establish business acumen, organizational credibility, and the trust and confidence from their co-workers in a completely new environment.
Some successful onboarding tactics revolve around setting performance objectives and introducing new hires to colleagues so that they can build critical internal networks.
Here are some tips on successfully onboarding a new hire:
• Start during the recruitment process. Share information about the role, expectations and organization climate during the recruitment process; an informed candidate can better assess whether he or she will fit in.
• Clarify goals. Nothing unlocks employee potential more than seeing a connection between their own work and company goals. Build a plan that includes opportunities for early wins.
• Make connections. Ensure the new hire is introduced to key stakeholders, leaders and peers; a mentor can help facilitate introductions.
• Create a development plan. The new hire needs to have some accountability in the process of onboarding. Create a formal plan for development that includes self-directed learning, as well as mentoring, coaching and knowledge sharing.
During interviewing, we also attempt to determine the “fit” of the employee to our organization. This is often viewed to be just as important as their functional skills. You can include opportunity in your onboarding to test for “fit” with suggestions that enable new hires to build credibility with their colleagues:
• Invest in “impression management”. Strongly encourage a new hire to quickly schedule those introductory meetings with key stakeholders. Understanding stakeholder roles, priorities, and common goals will lead to great first impressions and are critical to establishing productive, collaborative relationships.
• Respect the existing culture. Things will be done differently at the new organization. Recommend to a new hire that they listen and ask questions to learn processes and how decision-making is handled before jumping in with their own perspectives.
• Ask for feedback. A new hire needs to take responsibility for career success and should stay connected by regularly checking in to share updates on progress, goals achieved, challenges, ideas and learnings.
The investment in new hires is significant. At the senior leader level the cost of turnover can be as high as 40 times base salary. Protect your investment and ensure your new hires are equipped, engaged and capable to contribute quickly.
Dean Fulford, CHRL is a member of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA)—the regulator of the HR profession in Ontario. www.hrpa.ca