New Hire Onboarding
This past week I went through the onboarding process with a new employee. I got to know this individual well throughout the hiring process and really enjoyed getting to know him so I wasn’t just professionally vested, I was personally vested.
On his first day and throughout the first week, I found myself going through the normal list of onboarding paperwork including confidentiality agreements, I-9’s etc.
My reputation is on the line
Because I posted the job description, recruited him, and presented him to the hiring manager, I know my reputation is at stake. If the candidate works out great, it would be normal for the hiring manager to take the credit for hiring such a great candidate. If the new hire doesn’t work out, the first question that will be asked is “Where did this guy come from? Who referred him?” and all eyes will be directed at me. It isn’t a knock on the hiring manager, it is just the way it is with all new hires while the verdict is still out. Welcome to the world of HR and recruiting.
So, it is in my best interest to not only make sure I find the best candidate I can, but to make sure he is successful once his butt is in the seat. Where most recruiters just wipe their hands clean of the new hire, I know my job is only beginning.
I thought it would be a good exercise to share what I do and say when onboarding a new hire to ensure that they are successful. My hope is that this would help other HR pro’s, and managers that are welcoming new hires or anyone starting new job.
Meet the team face to face
Whenever we have a new hire come in, we put a box of donuts on their desk and invite then wolves. We ask the new hire to send out the following email to the department or the entire company depending on the numbers. I have blogged about this in the past here.
Hey, my name is Johnny New Hire and today is my first day. I am a developer here at Acme Publishing and sitting on the 2nd floor near the water cooler. I am really excited to be here. A little bit about me: I came from XYZ were I was a developer for 3 years and I am a Seahawks fan with season tickets. I have a box of Top Pot Donuts at my desk so swing by and introduce yourself and enjoy a donut. PS, I believe that the Samoa’s are the number 1 Girl Scout cookie.
This gets co-workers out of their chairs and walking over to the new hire for face to face introductions. I feel this is more effective than the sterile email that HR or the hiring manager sends out. A few conversational talking points never hurt (Seahawks fan and Girl Scout cookies).
Carry a pad of paper and pen everywhere for the first 2 weeks
I know this is the age of EverNote, MSFT OneNote, Zoho, (you pick your flavor) and most of us are taking notes on our phones. In our first couple of weeks with a new job, we are going to be learning a lot. We need to write stuff down. This isn’t just for ourselves as the new hire. We want to make our bosses confident that we are paying attention to the training. If we take notes on our phone, our trainers don’t know if we are sexting, on FB, or earning our paychecks. Emotionally, trainers and managers are put at ease when they see a new hire taking notes, because trust me, 8 out of 10 new hires do not. For what it’s worth, I still carry a pad of paper and pen everywhere I go so I can try and instill confidence.
Dress a half step the first two weeks
I work in tech and it isn’t uncommon to see flip flops, shorts and t-shirts in the winter. Regardless of the position, I encourage new hires to dress business casual the first couple of weeks to establish a reputation for putting their best foot forward. This let’s your manager know that you CAN represent the company at business events. Within a few days, your co-workers will chide you into dressing down. It is always better to create a good impression and then relax the company rules vs. making them wonder if you can meet them.
Set up a regular meeting with your manager
Take the initiative to set up a regular check-in meeting with your manager. The purpose of this meeting is to reassure your manager that you are on top of your work and taking your career seriously.
In the first meeting, we want to convey the following:
- “I am very happy with this new opportunity. Thank you for hiring me!”
- We need to reassure our manager that we made the right decision. Don’t assume they know this!
- “Johnny has been a big help in getting me on boarded. Everyone here is so nice.”
- Team players give credit to others. Let your manager know you understand what a team is.
- “My goal for the first couple of weeks are:”
- “Learn the job”
- “Get to know the departments”
- “Read up on a specific product”
- We want to go to our manager with a list of bullets outlining what we expect to accomplish the first week. If they haven’t given you a training program, use the above and let them make the corrections. Don’t take offense if they correct your list. New hires WANT our managers to make corrections because then we can be assured that we are working on the right objectives.
Follow up meeting
- “I am STILL very happy with this new opportunity. Thank you for hiring me! I feel like I have an opportunity for a long-term career.” Show Job Excitement
- “Johnny has been big help in getting me on boarded. Everyone here is so nice.”
- Yes, spread some more love. It doesn’t have to be Johnny, just keep being a positive team player.
- “Last week, I said my goal was to do X, Y, and Z. I did accomplish X, Y and Z and this next week I am going to do A, B and C.”
Future follow up meetings consist of: rinse, lather and repeat.
Create a support network
We picked up a $10.00 SBUX gift card for the new hire and asked him to find Johnny Badass (I told him who to meet with). I suggested he take him out to coffee at least 2 times over the next couple of weeks. The conversations should include and morph from:
- I am really excited to be here.
- As the new guy I was hoping you might be able to provide some advice for me.
- It is understood that you are the most knowledgeable / successful / respected in the department.
- What 3 pieces of advice would you have for me to get along with my manager?
- If you had 3 pieces of advice for me to navigate the company culture what would they be?
I will check in with the new hire over the next couple of months. My reputation is still on the line so we will make adjustments. This will incorporate other Nasty moves along the way. At a basic level, this is how I cover my onboarding bases.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.