I’m Your New Hire; Teach Me, Train Me, Don’t Just Leave Me: Onboarding – Day One
Spoiler alert: Nothing that I put in this post is going to be ground-breaking new science or process that will blow your mind or be the coolest thing since sliced bread. I am going to share with you information that you may already know, but haven’t implemented or maybe this is the first time you are reading about day one onboarding, and in that case, I am glad I was able to share this information with you.
Onboarding Starts Before Day One
If you read my last blog post, you see that I mentioned sending out communication ahead of time to the employee to let them know what to expect. This email encompasses a few different things:
1) Confirmation of the start date and time for your new employee.
2) Where they should go, park, who they should ask for and the overall time frame for the first day.
3) A broken-out schedule (general or specific) of what they can expect to be doing on their first day.
4) What, if anything, they need to bring with them (i.e. are you doing their I-9 that day, what documentation do they need?).
5) Any links, documents or social media information you want them to have prior to starting.
There is a lot more that can be done prior to day one, which I eluded to in my last post, but this is something easy and quick that everyone can do regardless of culture.
Have Everything Set-Up and Ready
One of the worst things for your new employee’s morale, is when it looks like no one realized they were coming. They don’t have a desk or work space set up, they don’t have a chair, or they don’t have their computer ready. Whether or not it is true, it makes the company look unprofessional and can give the impression they don’t actually care about their new hire (when you really do!).
Instead, I recommend that you set up the employee’s work space with the essentials that they will need. Setting up the employee’s computer, monitor(s), phone, pens, notepads, etc. I think it is really nice to have a present there for your employee. If you sent out company swag after the offer, you can still have something for the employee. Maybe it is a logo’d notebook, planner or even the employee’s favorite candy with a welcome note. There is always a small touch you can add to really make the person feel special.
Other things that you want to have set-up, the employee’s company email, log-ins to specific software or websites that are used, if you have a time clock, enrolling the employee so they can clock in when they arrive. This all goes along the same premise of being prepared for your employee with your physical space, but flipped to the virtual.
Have an Onboarding Plan
If you follow Evergreen Consulting on Instagram, you knew this was going to come in to play. A lot of companies that I speak to or work with value autonomy and the ability to work without a lot of oversight because everyone is busy! It’s important to know and find people who can work in a setting that is autonomous, but that doesn’t mean that you leave the employee out to dry within their first day, week, month, quarter, year, etc.
You should have faith and information from the recruiting process to show that your new hire is capable of doing the job you have asked them to do. That doesn’t mean that they know your culture, what you value, the systems you work in, or how your team functions and makes decisions. These are all things that need to be taught and shown to your employee to set them up for success.
Some questions that I like to put forward when putting together that training plan are:
1) What do you want to ensure your new teammate knows about the company? About the position? Who and how is the best way to relay this information?
2) What skills does our new employee already possess that we may not have to train as much on? What are skills that are vital to this role that we need to expand their knowledge on to ensure success?
3) How can we make sure that we are welcoming and introducing our new teammate to their new co-workers in an engaging and organic way? Making connections matter!
This is also where a lot of people confuse onboarding with orientation. Orientation is getting the paperwork and other administrative tasks completed. Onboarding can last up to a year for new employees in some companies. It’s truly about getting your new employee acquainted with the company, role and co-workers and how you can set them up for success in the long-run. So, with that, is there a way that you can do some of these orientation tasks ahead of time? Sending out the new employee paperwork (I-9, W-$, etc.) and handbook prior to starting, is an easy way to take that out of the first day and focus on you really want the employee to know about the company and role.
Get Ready, Here They Come!
It’s time! Your new employee is walking through the door, but don’t worry you got this. I generally like to start the first day by slowing sliding in to things. Bring your employee to their new workspace so they are able to set down their belongings, and get to know their new space a little. Then I don’t know about you, but I’m going to need some coffee!
Grabbing coffee with your new hire is a really good way for you to informally get to know your new employee more and to break the ice. It also starts the transition in to the morning that you and your team have planned. From here, you can review the schedule for the day, and potentially give the new employee a tour of the office and introduce them to their new teammates (if this isn’t scheduled in anywhere else).
Generally, I will do any orientation tasks that didn’t get taken care of ahead of time or review information with the employee to see if there are any questions or things that came up while they were reading through information that was sent their way. If your team has created onboarding videos for new employees to welcome them in and provide them with information, that’s also a good time to do this.
For lunch, having a team lunch in or out of the office (usually recommend out of the office) with the employee’s new department is a good way to welcome them in to the fold with an informal touch. The new team can get to know each other personally and professionally while enjoying a meal at the one of the team’s favorite restaurants. After lunch, following up on the rest of the first day training plan is on the docket.
Finally, one of the last things that I recommend be done on the first day is a round-up with the new employee’s manager. This can be a Q&A session, summary of information that was taken over the first day, and a review of what the employee’s first week is going to look like. Having that 1:1 face time at the end of the day is a really good moment for the employee to debrief and get ready for the week.
The Key to a Successful First Day
If you haven’t guessed by now, my belief is that the key to a successful first day is planning and preparation. You may not have everything figured out, but it’s a learning and growing process. You will remove things, add them, change them all the time in your quest. The key is just to be prepared to welcome that new employee in to your company with the goal of setting them up for success.