Employee onboarding is a pivotal time for any new member of your organization and also for your team. For a new team member the ability to get up to speed on the role and feel part of the team quickly is essential to their long-term happiness in the role. The wrong onboarding is the first step in employee off-boarding. For employers – it’s also costly to have a team member that is not properly onboarding. Gallup research has found that the price tag for replacing an employee is equal to half or twice that person’s salary (Cross, Rob, et al. “How To Succeed Quickly in New Role .” Harvard Business Review , Nov. 2021.)
Below I have some helpful tips for an effective and engaging employee onboarding. While taking these steps won’t guarantee your new team member will be a perfect fit for the role – I have found they help quickly bring a new team member into an organization.
Understand Management Style
One thing that is incredibly helpful is asking questions around management style (both for the manager and their direct report). Being upfront about past bad experiences with bosses or with direct reports will help you both learn a lot about each other. I often find that early conversation prevents frustration in the future. We all have our individual quirks and preferences in how we work. Start by asking each other to describe the characteristics of your past best and worst manager in the past.
I can’t speak enough to the value of consistently documenting as much as possible and then sharing with your new team member. This intensive documentation will help a new team member quickly get up to speed. One can incorrectly assume “documentation” refers purely written material. However I have found a ton of value from from recording calls, meetings, or screen shared material for the intent of being passed on to new team members. Start recording more of your key meetings today if they are conducted virtually.
Onboarding is often a lot of reading, absorbing, and sitting in on meetings (depending on the role). That being said it can start to feel more like you are in school versus diving into a new job and making an impact. This is why it’s key to provide “mini-milestones” to let any new team member know how he or she is doing. Let your new hire know they are hitting key milestones on time. At my workplace we use the project management tool Asana to help organize all steps for employee onboarding along with notes on by what point they should have it complete after starting at the company.
30 Day Mark Goals
This is more of a personal opinion shaped by the team and people I have had the pleasure of working with over the year. I am very adamant that by 30 days into a new role specific KPIs should be developed for any new team member. I’ve found this is beneficial to both the employee and the manager. This is often a great way to end an “official” onboarding period because you’re giving that employee their goals outside of onboarding where their day to day may not be as structured since they are hopefully getting to a point they need less guidance and can handle the role themselves.
The other thing to keep in mind is with most onboarding periods – they are very standard or “templatized”. This is important for consistency among new hires – however, at the same time this can feel a bit impersonal. These personalized goals make the employee feel seen and also give a manager a clear set of goals to check in with the new team member on over the coming months. Create a customized set of goals at the end of your new hire’s first 30 days.
Foster the Network
Once you have been at a company for a few years you often take for granted the nature relationships that you have cultivated over the years. Those relationships are in many cases just as impactful as the certifications you may get in your role. Those relationships award you credibility, access to opportunities, and support. This is why it’s critical to find ways to make introductions into some of the many teams or networks of people at the company for your new hire.
Harvard Business Review analyzed employee relationships and communication patterns in over 100 companies and concluded that networks were critical for success. In fact, the employees who were the most productive, innovative and engaged in roles were those who established broad and mutually beneficial connections from their first days at the company. The average person at a company is relied upon by 5 to 12 colleagues (Cross, Rob, et al. “How To Succeed Quickly in New Role .” Harvard Business Review , Nov. 2021.). Establish some of these key relationships through introductions early on for your new hire.