Three Pitfalls to Avoid When Onboarding New Employees

You have just completed an exhausting search and have hired the most spectacular employee in recent history!!!  You gave the hiring documents to your Human Resource department and now can focus on taking care of everything you ignored while doing interviews.  Can you relate to this typical day in the life of a busy manager?

The heavy lifting of build great employee engagement with a new hire starts as soon as the candidate says yes. The impression of the company starts to build in the candidate’s mind as soon as the ink on the offer letter has dried, so your onboarding program needs to start at that point as well.  You might be thinking “how can I onboard a new employee when they haven’t walked into my office yet?”  By including these three simple steps will help you avoid three major pitfalls and will help start the employee engagement off on the right foot.

Pitfall #1: Communication breakdown

Communication is the key aspect of all relationship building and the hardest to ensure is being handle well.  You thought you told the new hire to meet at the back door at 8:00 am, however, they heard be there at 8:00 am.  At 8:00 am the new hire is standing at a locked front door waiting for anyone to acknowledge their presence.  Meanwhile, you are standing at the back door counting the minutes that your spectacular new hire is late for the first day of work!

How to Avoid Pitfall #1:

It isn’t possible to over communicate so use all forms to your advantage.  When you say something over the phone, follow up with an email to clarify expectations.  If you are sending an email, follow up with a phone call to help convey the enthusiasm you have about the new hire joining your team.  Information can be missed over the phone and emotions can be lacking from emails so sprinkle in a little of both styles to share important information and excitement with your new hire.  The day before the new hire will be starting, you reach out one more time by phone to confirm time, location, dress code, enthusiasm about her starting with your team and other important details to help the first day be the best possible.

Pitfall #2: It’s the HR Departments Job

The belief that it is the Human Resource department (or in some cases the outsourced department) to handle everything until the new hire is handed off to you for on the job training.

How to Avoid Pitfall #2:

I agree that the Human Resource Department has a portion of onboarding work setting up of the payroll and benefits; the truth is that part is a very small portion of what onboarding should be about.  The day your new hire begins should be celebrated day – she selected your company to partner with so make sure you reinforce what a wonderful decision that is by your actions.  Be present when the new hire arrives, take her around to meet her co-workers, make sure she has plenty to do on that first day.  This means that you should double check that access to all the necessary computer systems are in place. By taking a lead role in the new hire journey, you will be able to ensure it represents the journey you want while building great employee engagement.

 

Pitfall #3: Who Knew?

None of the existing employees know there would be a new person starting.

How to Avoid Pitfall #3:

This pitfall is like #1 but with the existing employees.  What type of message does it send to the new hire about your communication systems if people don’t know someone was being hired?  The full department should make the first day of someone’s employment a big deal – not just the manager.  Which means as the manager, you need to make an official announcement to your team (and possibly other impacted departments) of the new team member.  On your department calendar – paper or electronic – you should highlight the day for all to be aware of.  If your organization is large enough, consider having a cross functional team that helps with onboarding.  The onboarding team members would be part of the welcoming committee, help introduce the new hire to the rest of the department and would explain what their department does to support your new hire.  As a manager you need to be involved in the onboarding process and can use this opportunity to build the future leadership of your team by inviting other employees to help support your efforts.

Hiring a new employee takes time and patience.  The same care needs to go into the onboarding of the employee in order to develop outstanding engagement from the outset.

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