For all practical purposes, your first day on a job should be an energizing experience.
But for many, it’s anything but remarkable. More like forgettable—thanks largely to some fundamentals that go astray.
With a crop of new grads and veteran job transfers ready to report for that first day at work, now is the time to ensure that your onboarding practices keep your new hire motivated and feeling excited about working for you.
These tips can help you succeed:
No. 1: Be present.
Seems so basic. So simple. Yet many new hires arrive on Day One only to find their boss away. Your absence won’t make their heart grow fonder.
Clear your schedule to personally welcome your new hire upon her arrival. Set aside time to introduce her to her work space and co-workers. An informal, in-person welcome is a great confidence booster for any hire, seasoned veteran or newcomer grad.
No. 2: Engage other managers.
Look beyond your own department and help your new hire make acquaintances in other business units.
“I met with department managers from several areas to discuss their goals, their challenges and how we may be working together. For me, learning about their challenges outlined a map of landmines. Being new, and someone that was helping to bring about change, this helped me and it's much easier to obtain a list of challenges while having one-on-one discussions versus at a meeting with multiple people” recalls Valerie, a marketing director with a major insurance company.
The formula also applies to senior leaders in your department. Bring them into the fold. Explains David, who is completing his third year of a rotational leadership program, “A little face time with at least two levels above you can really help you develop loyalty to a company. It is important to have a bit of networking time and not just a 5 minute "congrats you're hired" appearance. It makes you less willing to jump ship if you know the upper management personally or if you at least know that they are knowledgeable, personable and honest.”
No. 3: Assign a buddy.
This is a double win practice: Recognize a current team member by tasking him to be a workplace buddy--answering questions and helping your new hire learn the logistics and routines of your workplace. By giving him time on the job to serve as guide and informant—plus your confidence—you’ve sent a big signal that you value him. Your new hire wins as well by quickly learning protocol and practices that—unexplained—can stymie him.
Give careful thought to this temporary assignment. Buddy chemistry matters, as Whitney, a 2012 college grad who launched her professional career with an aviation firm, attests, “My buddy had started just about a year before me. She was close enough to the on-boarding process and was able to help me through the logistics that a 20-year company veteran might not have remembered. She took me out to lunch and answered all of the 'silly' questions I didn't want to bother my manager with. Having a more casual co-worker lead you through the complicated stuff really alleviates the stress of starting a new job!”
No. 4: Remind your new hire about the skills and experience that captured your attention.
Reinforce what cemented your decision to offer them a job and how they can successfully deliver value. Recalls Blake, now completing his first year with a major engineering firm, “My first day, in my first face-to-face meeting with my boss, he started to relate to me personally. He confirmed a few highlights from my resume and addressed some specific things about me. He told me ‘that is why we chose you, you’re going to learn how to apply those great things to this department and you'll do well’. Hearing that was a good confidence booster for me in a new environment.”
No. 5: Hold periodic progress checks.
Make a schedule for conducting regular, informal chats about what’s going well and what’s not. Ideally, keep these conversations face-to-face and in a round-table setting. Use the diverse perspectives as a learning platform. And invite your new hire’s ideas and assistance for corrective actions where things aren’t going well.
Share successes with others so that these practices can help improve other work areas or departments. If there are several new hires starting at the same time, bring them together for these check-ins. Nick, who recently started his second post-college job, finds the scheduled check-ins with other associates “a great way to meet people who are going through similar challenges.”
No. 6: Have work tools ready.
Along my career path, I had the numbing experience of starting a new job without a computer, desk and other essential workplace tools. My excitement level went from 60 rpm to 0 in seconds. Don’t keep the new hire waiting for the tools to help them be both pumped up and productive. Plan ahead. If a new computer, mobile phone or file cabinet needs to be ordered, do so with time to spare before your new hire’s arrival. Thanks to a “gold standard onboarding process,” Brian, a manager in the pharmaceutical industry, hit the ground running with “all logistics being covered, including a laptop, credit card, access granted to the company network/intranet site (including remote access) and all grants of authority established in the company’s financial accounting system to open purchase orders.”
A list of company acronyms helped Sarah quickly settle in to her first post college job. She also recalls receiving local street maps, a contact sheet with her team members’ phone and email information, a job description and a list of company expectations.
Take stock of how you and your company welcome new hires. Regardless of your industry or size, the practice of onboarding makes for good business by fostering engagement from the start of your employee’s career with you. Create a formal process. Assign a team member with strong interpersonal skills who knows the ropes about how you and your company runs to serve as onboarding coordinator. With her help, you can cement a connection that can deliver big dividends—in Sarah’s words, “by being connected to a friendly co-worker so quickly, I felt valued from the beginning. A supportive staff can make all the difference in adjusting to a new work environment.”
Linda Dulye is internationally recognized for helping many companies go spectator free. A former communications leader for GE and Allied Signal, Linda established Dulye & Co. in 1998 with a practical, process-driven approach for improving communications and collaboration through an engaged workforce— a formidable competitive advantage, that she calls a Spectator-Free Workplace™.