How to Win at Onboarding

Moving from one man show/entrepreneur to actually managing a team (or even one employee!) is a big deal. There are a lot of pitfalls to avoid, and lessons to be learned from those who blazed the trail for you. Growth and scale can be nurtured here or totally destroyed. Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t invest in this part of the process. In fact, the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found that 35 percent of new companies spent a dismal $0 for onboarding. Not training, grooming or welcoming your new team is a horrible mistake.

There’s a lot more to success than who you hire—you also need to focus on how you’ll be integrating new hires. There are three major parts of successful onboarding for entrepreneurs and major, common mistakes to sidestep. Are you ready to bring on the best, and train them for success?


Start at day one, and you’re already behind

You can’t wait until your new hire’s first day to take care of onboarding basics. You should have an agenda set at least for the first five days. This sets up expectations for both of you. If you already have employees, this is also when you prep them for what to expect with a newbie. Make sure the environment is comfortable, you have all supplies, and the atmosphere is welcoming. Showing you care is how you tell new hires they’re vital and you’re happy to have them.

Some companies offer swag gifts such as a mug or hat with the company logo for new hires. Ensure you’ve informed the employee of everything they need to know for their first day, from parking to dress code, so their inaugural day is as stress-free as possible.


The First Week

The first week at a new job is largely soaking it up and learning the basic ropes. Start the first day with a tour, introductions, and give them time to get oriented. Even if you score the best candidate for the job, they still need to feel things out. This is a time to connect, get comfortable and figure out their surroundings—not dive right into a project. If possible, take everyone out for a team lunch. This is also the week where work processes, software introduction, email rules and password regulations are discussed.

Make sure they meet with their direct supervisor during this week, and both short and long term goals are set. You can flesh out management/communication styles, and if you’ve hired a manager then this is the week they meet with each of “their” employees, too. In order to show camaraderie, make sure you showcase your own support of this new manager, which helps them build respect.


30-90 day range

In the first 30-90 days of a new hire, they’re still ramping up. They’re still in training, so you can’t expect them to be at 100 percent quite yet. This is a time for them to give you feedback and vice versa. It may take them awhile to feel comfortable enough to take initiative and share ideas. Use this time for training and job shadowing, but schedule the first performance review at the 90-day mark.


Avoiding Disaster

The kinds of mistakes made during this period can vary greatly. However, some of the biggies include having a lack of structure, lack of culture, and setting your expectations too high. Document as you go, update as necessary, and remember that teaching company culture appreciation can take you far. This is a learning experience for everyone, so be realistic and don’t reach for the stars quite yet.