Employee OnboardingA full release of the ultimate guidebook to loving your small business lifestyle, Plan It! Do It! Love It! is just around the corner. In the meantime, please enjoy this insight from the Do It! section of the book.

Hiring is the first step to building a high performance team. Once you’ve hired new talant, you must then onboard them in such a way they know what is expected, settle in quickly, perform at their highest level of capability, and become a long term asset for you and your business. Onboarding refers to the way new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective contributors to your business team.

Early in my career I landed a job selling mortgage insurance. I was amazed I was chosen because I had only minimum experience in the industry. I was a long shot in a field of otherwise experienced candidates. I have often pondered why they chose me, but in those days I was just delighted to have the opportunity and determined to make the best of it.

Knowing little or nothing about sales and not much more about mortgage insurance I was counting on a lot of instruction and guidance. I was surprised when on my first day of work I was handed the keys to my new company car, a manual of guidelines, a list of current clients, and instructions to “go sell mortgage insurance.” I am pleased to report I did figure it out and in a few short years proved myself worthy of the position. But, I have often wondered how much more productive I could have been and how much faster I would have had success if I had been given the right support from the start.

Think of onboarding as your opportunity to get more from your new hires more quickly. The more they know about what you expect of them and how to deliver on those expectations the larger their contribution will be to your business success.

Tips for onboarding 

Remember this process is just as important as the hiring process. Give it the time and attention it deserves.

  1. Give them a tour. Take the time to show them the landscape. Show them where they will work, rest, take breaks, have their lunch, etc.
  2. Introduce them to the staff and clients. Some introductions might be done on their first days. Other introductions may take time. To be formerly introduced sends the right message to everyone involved. The message is: this person is my choice and I want you to accept them and trust them. If they are working from a remote location be sure they meet all the staff members they will be working with including those that might be in a headquarters or other supporting location.
  3. Set clear expectations. Give each new employee a complete job description. List for them exactly what you expect them to do. Tell them when you expect them to have mastered tasks and functions they may not be familiar with. I recommend  expectations with timelines. Outline what is expected in 30, 60, 90, 180 and 360 days.
  4. Give them resources. As a part of setting expectations be clear on where they go for information, feedback, and training. Always let them know you are open to questions and feedback and who is available to help if you are not.
  5. Give them an employee handbook. This should be a compilation of all the policies and procedures you have adopted for your workplace. These are a great reference source on the first day of hire and months and years into the future. If you do not have an employee handbook, make one or have one made for you. It should include policies on vacation, sick time, dress code, tardiness, breaks, equipment usage, social media practices and more.
  6. Give the employee the opportunity to share their goals. By doing so you will have a better understanding as to how you can keep them satisfied and retain them as employees. You are not responsible for meeting all of their career goals, but you may choose to contribute to their success in a way that binds them more closely to you. One of the best ways to do this is to consider paying for all or some portion of training or education. Tell them how they qualify and what you expect from them in return — such as years of service or repayment of tuition if they leave within a predetermined number of years following the contribution.
  7. Let them know how they will be measured. Give them an overview of how you conduct your performance measurement process. If you do not have one you will want to develop one. Let them know when they will be reviewed.
  8. Set dates for review and stick to them. It is suggested that you review progress at the end of the first 90 days and then no less than annually thereafter. For a more comprehensive program you should consider reviewing progress quarterly or every six months.

Get them on board and up to speed as soon as possible. You will be glad you did and they will be too.

Read other excerpts from Plan It! Do It! Love It! here:

Book excerpt: Be accountable to your small business plan

Book excerpt: Avoid these 5 pitfalls of poor hiring

Book excerpt: Love It!

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