For many startups, people are the largest expense, the biggest investment in their future, and the most impactful for their success.
Knowing this, founders pour a ton of time and money into recruiting the right people. Sometimes, though, the valuable new hire arrives with no plan to get them acclimated and contributing quickly.
𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒖𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒚 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒔𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒇𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒖𝒊𝒍𝒅 𝒂𝒏 𝒆𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒃𝒐𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔.
If you want new employees to make an impact immediately, they need knowledge, tools, and understanding efficiently.
A thorough orientation will reinforce the vision, culture, and values which should hold in perpetuity during success and hard challenges.
Through your onboarding program, employees will quickly learn how serious the business is about their development. If the company cares about their success, employees will want to match that effort.
Some tenets of a strong onboarding process:
𝘛𝘰𝘶𝘳 – Whether walking around an office or a virtual tour, show them around, share some kind of organizational chart, and introduce them. I like when new employees tell a few facts about themselves to help other employees make a connection and start a conversation.
𝘚𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵 – Consider pairing a mentor with the new hire so they have someone to ask any questions as they get started. Also, the new hire may not resonate immediately with their manager or co-workers, so the mentor can help them navigate faster.
𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘹𝘵 – Allow access to different teams so the new hire can understand their work and make connections to their own job. This view helps getting projects done, innovations, and efficiencies.
𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 – Explain the company’s past so new hires realize what current employees went through and learned from those trials. We should not be limited to our history, but also, we should not be ignorant. Telling those stories promotes resilience.
𝘙𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 – It feels good to be celebrated, whether it’s some swag on the first day, the team taking you out to (virtual) lunch, and/or a event or meeting where the new hires can socialize. You’re excited the new hire joined your company, so reinforce the message.
For new hires to hit the ground running, consider this checklist adapted to your business needs.
Paperwork is all done; ask them to get documents needed (e.g. I9)
Get them a laptop, email, and logon information for all platforms
Manager sends a welcome email to the team and copies new hire (includes professional background and some personal information)
Provide them with information on payroll, policies, and benefits
If the person is physically arriving, make sure someone greets them. I usually have them arrive a little later so everyone is there already.
Other areas to cover:
Physical or virtual tour of the office
Introductions to as many people as possible with some version of organizational chart
Discussion of first week of onboarding
Complete any final paperwork
Documents about the role and the company. Ideally, you have an evolving knowledgebase for people to learn and contribute updates
Any collateral, information on recent accomplishments, client information (if relevant), and press releases
Set up logins, email signature, and other details for communication.
Make sure the new hire joins the appropriate team meetings
Join other team meetings if possible to learn how they operate
One-on-one meetings with the team
Finalize onboarding schedule for first month
Shadow people on the team as they work
Schedule time with the founders to explain the vision, values, and history.
Meet team leads to explain how departments best work together, recent accomplishments, active projects, and any challenges.
Also this month:
New employee is introduced in a team meeting or social event
Complete Daily Recitations (will be covered in the next post)
Complete Onboarding Project (also in the next post)
Discuss progress at least weekly with manager
This schedule can be added and evolved to suit your needs. The keys are to have a plan and to engage new hires from the outset.
𝗦𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝘂𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗼𝗻𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴:
𝘋𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘙𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 – For the first couple weeks of onboarding, I want new hires to send an email about what they accomplished, learned, and want to understand better tomorrow.
This encourages new hires to process information and gives others a chance to add or clarify anything.
𝘖𝘯𝘣𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵 – Each new hire can contribute a worthy project, in the process learning more about how work gets done and improving the company for future new hires.
𝘓𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘌𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 – At around week 8, there should be a loose evaluation - not on the work, but on the future - any challenges to completing work, upcoming projects, and effective communication.
𝘍𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬 – At the end of onboarding, seek the new hire's thoughts on what went well, could be better, and the next Onboarding Project. You may want an executive to conduct the meeting to know the new employee and to get impressions on the onboarding process.
The new employee needs to get up to speed in their area. Some thoughts on how to best run this process. Leadership should take a direct role in part of the training to ensure quality and to reinforce quality and cohesion.
Recognize that everyone learns differently, some by reading, some by watching, and some by doing. Incorporate all three in training. Ask the new hire which materials and approaches resonated the most with them and then double-down on what worked best.
As a hater of micromanaging, I’d encourage you to emphasize 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙨 and provide limitations to new employees (versus listing every detail about how you get work done). As long as quality work is getting done, that's fine.
The new hire may have ideas. Be open that the right solution for yesterday may not remain the right solution today. A confident manager will embrace ways to improve the system.
With so much invested in recruiting and so much depending on your employees, onboarding is crucial to efficiency, productivity, and growth.