Leading the Charge for Onboarding

Photo of manager and employee

Onboarding is a key task for managers.

Hiring a new employee is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • New team members bring new energy, excitement, ideas, and perspective to the team.
  • A single new employee with a positive attitude and engaging personality can shift the mental energy of the entire team.
  • New employees also ask innocent but tough questions that force you to question how and why you do things a certain way. They don’t accept “this is how it’s always been done” as an acceptable answer to their questions.
  • And when training a new employee, skills gaps for the rest of the team may be uncovered. They tend to shake things up in a wonderful, necessary way that inspires growth and optimism.

But before a new team member can start making a real impact, they have to be onboarded to the organization and team. Onboarding is a lengthy process that takes time, energy, and a detailed plan and is far more than just training the employee on the specific tasks necessary to complete the job. While HR handles the new employee orientation, an effective leader must take charge of the full onboarding process from day one.

Deep, effective onboarding ensures that the new employee is integrated into culture and flow of the organization. New employees are filled with hope and excitement, but they’re also often filled with anxiety. Can I do this job? Do I fit in here? Is there a future for me here? Ambiguity and uncertainty are breeding grounds for self-doubt.  A smooth onboarding experience can help reduce anxiety and early turnover.

Here are a few tips for onboarding a new employee:

  • Early introductions are essential. First day jitters often revolve more around personality fit with the team than the job itself. When a new employee feels welcomed and embraced from a work and social aspect, they will feel more at ease. We spend over half of our awake time at work, so we want to spend that time with pleasant people. Aside from a sense of belonging, early introductions pay off later when the employee needs help and you’re unavailable.
  • Empower everyone to be a guide. Onboarding works best when everyone on the team gets involved. Not only will this reduce your workload, but it gives the employee exposure to a wide variety of perspectives and preferences on the team. They can see what works best from one person to the next and adopt a blended custom solution to fit their own preferences.
  • Don’t underestimate the vision. While Millennials get a bad rap as being entitled and disloyal, when you ask them why they leave organizations quickly, the answer usually relates to the vision. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to make an impact on the world. Capitalize on that desire by clearly sharing the bigger picture for the employee early on. No one wants to sell textbooks for the rest of their lives, but they do want to support an easily accessible education and lifelong learning for all. Sell the vision, not the job.
  • Chart a career path. It seems odd to define a career path for an employee before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves in their current role, but setting a career path from the start is essential. It reinforces your long-term vision for the new employee and helps them orient their goals past their first performance review. Begin with the end in mind.
  • Define the onboarding process. Give the new employee a roadmap for what they should expect during the onboarding process. This will help them assess whether or not they are hitting key milestones for success and identify any skills gaps early on. Establishing a timeline also ensures you won’t give the new employee too much, too fast.

Onboarding can be seen as a painful, but necessary step to growing as an organization. But with a strategic plan in place, consistent communication, and a supportive team, the new employee will feel embraced and equipped to make a difference for years to come.