Ultimate onboarding guide: 6 ideas to set your new people up for success

Oct 28, 2021

I’m sure you’ve heard all the talk lately about the ‘The Great Resignation’. With people leaving their jobs at a faster rates than ever before.

Candidate shortages across all professions and industries have also made it difficult to find and attract new talent.

As a hiring manager or business owner, it’s more critical than ever to develop and retain your best people — and this needs to happen from the moment they join.

It’s essential to invest in the onboarding process and integrate new hires into the business.

Recruitment, onboarding and training requires a BIG investment of time, money and energy. Without seeing the return on investment right away.

This may explain why the onboarding processes within many organisations are less than mediocre. Lots of companies provide new hires with a brief induction, team introduction and basic systems training. Then leave them to it!

Effective onboarding is often overlooked when mid-career professionals and leaders join the organisation. It’s easily to assume they don’t need (or want) support at their level.

But starting a new job is tough. It can be challenging to fit into an existing company culture and navigate the dynamics of a new team. Especially when this individual feels the pressure to perform and prove themselves.

Without the right onboarding support, they’ll struggle to integrate into the organisation, build effective relationships or make an impact. This leads to underperformance and turnover — which costs the business more over time. So it makes sense to invest the time upfront to bring them up to speed as soon as possible.

What can you do in the first 90 days to set your new employee up for success?

In part two of this month’s onboarding special, I’m sharing the best practices and steps to take from your perspective as a hiring manager. Follow these six strategies to increase performance, retention — and best support your new team member.

#1 — GET BUY-IN FROM THE BUSINESS

As the hiring manager, it’s your responsibility to gain the support of the business. Explain to any direct reports, colleagues and senior stakeholders when they’re joining. Clarify what their role and responsibilities are.

Be transparent about why you hired them and the unique value they bring. Share the reasons you hired externally, rather than from within the business. Overcome objections or answer any questions to gain acceptance before they join.

#2 — HELP THEM BUILD CREDIBILITY

It’s a challenge for new professionals and leaders to merge into the existing culture. To be successful, they need to build credibility, trust and respect. This helps them develop confidence and come up to speed quickly in their new role.

To support them, identify the key stakeholders they need to establish relationships with. Be proactive about setting up meetings and making direct introductions once your new employee starts. Reach out to them on LinkedIn to welcome them to the team and urge their peers to do the same.

Encourage colleagues to introduce themselves, answer questions or take them for coffee. Match them with an onboarding ‘buddy’ outside their immediate team. This person’s role is to educate them on the company culture, people, systems and benefits.

Make it clear everyone has a role to play to support their new team member. I found out several weeks into a new job my company had set up an internal buddy system. My ‘buddy’ hadn’t even bothered to introduce themselves!

Let your team know this isn’t acceptable and you’ll be checking to see who is co-operating. It’s your responsibility to support your new employee, so lead by example!

#3 — CREATE + COMMUNICATE A CLEAR PLAN

One of the reasons people quit in their first few months is due to unclear expectations. To prevent this, take the time to create a 90 day onboarding plan before your new team member starts. Set out specific outcomes for each month, keeping the goals realistic.

Share the plan with your new-starter and refer to it regularly. Tweak it together as you go to incorporate your new employee’s goals too.

Clearly communicate your expectations and make sure they understand what’s required. But give them autonomy to figure out HOW to reach their goals and targets.

#4 — CHECK-IN REGULARLY

People leave when their boss is inaccessible or they don’t feel they have adequate support. I recommend checking in on your new-starter at regular intervals.

Do it daily for the first few weeks. Let them know you have certain windows in the day free to answer their questions. For example, thirty minutes at the start, end of day and lunchtime.

Set up a regular weekly in person catch-up and commit to it consistently. Don’t cancel — this is disrespectful and sends the message they’re not important. Investing the extra time upfront will be worth it in the long run!

#5 — PROVIDE MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK

When new employees don’t work out, it’s often due to a lack of communication and feedback. They feel the pressure to get results or want to make a good impression, so don’t speak up about any issues. This is why it’s critical to provide specific, meaningful feedback on a regular basis — and ask for theirs.

Offer on the job feedback in real time. Then, share more detailed feedback in your weekly one-on-one catch-ups. What are they doing well — and what are the areas for improvement?

Let them know it’s OK to ask for help or make mistakes. Normalise the fact it takes time to come up to speed and they’re not expected to know everything upfront.

Also, encourage them to share their feedback. What do they feel is working — or not working? Give them space to ask questions, share their insights and ideas.

It shouldn’t be a surprise if someone doesn’t work out or decides to leave! If you create open lines of communication and share feedback, you’ll be aware of and able to address any issues early on. 

#6 — GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY

Once you’ve communicated expectations, let your new-starter take ownership of their role. Have them figure out the ‘how’ — or the specific steps they’ll take on a daily basis to reach their goals.

People leave jobs when they’re micro-managed or have a lack of autonomy. Ask for their input and ideas. Give them responsibility, the opportunity to contribute and take the lead on rolling out new projects. 

It’s more important than ever to develop and retain your best people — and this starts the moment they join. These strategies will support you to effectively onboard your new hires. All so you can limit turnover and set them up for success long-term!

Want to get clarity on your career direction and become more confident as a leader? 

Watch my FREE career masterclass to get started! Register HERE.

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.