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Quick Tips for Starting Your New Employees Off Right

by
David Lee
Apr 12, 2013, 5:21 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 4.07.21 PMI’ve been working on a program for a hotel group that includes how to onboard new employees and thought I would share with you a modified version of the tip sheet I created for it.

While it obviously doesn’t include the level of detail and nuance to design the perfect new hire experience, it will give you guidance and a framework.

The first list will help you assess whether your onboarding process accomplishes what it’s designed to accomplish. The second list will provide you with specific recommendations for onboarding your new hires “faster, smarter, and better.”

Eight Outcomes An Effective Onboarding Accomplishes

Use this list to analyze your current onboarding processes. As you upgrade your onboarding program, you can use it as a “are we accomplishing what we’re supposed to accomplish?” checklist.

  1. Makes the new hire feel proud, and lucky, to be part of your organization.
  2. Provides them with the information they need to feel comfortable and secure in their new environment … but does not overwhelm them with indigestible amounts of information.
  3. Let’s the new hire know that their questions and feedback are welcomed, and makes it easy for them to ask and to give feedback.
  4. Provides clear direction on where to find information as needed, and makes it easy to do so.
  5. Helps the new hire understand and bond with the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
  6. Helps the new hire understand their critical role in contributing to the organization’s success.
  7. Provides the new hire with clear directions about job expectations and how they are performing.
  8. Connects the new hire with their peers and the organization as a whole, so they feel like a sense of belonging.

Quick Tips to Upgrade Your Onboarding Process

  1. Ask employees who have been working in your organization between a month and a year for feedback on how you can improve your onboarding process. Ask people with varying levels of tenure. Otherwise, if you only ask people at say, 3, 6, and 12 months, they will have forgotten many of the important details of their early experiences. These details that prove invaluable information on how to tweak and refine your onboarding process.
  2. Get ongoing feedback from current new hires about how they are doing, both to tweak their current experience and upgrade your onboarding process. Coach your managers to ask your new employees for feedback informally at different intervals, such as the first week, the second week, the first 30 days, etc. Find out what is working and what can be improved.
  3. Only include “need-to-know-now” information in your formal orientation program. Do not do a data dump. Remove all information that you know they will forget. Offload as much as possible to your intranet or hard-copy manual for just-in-time learning and when-they-need-it-they-know-where-to-find-it information.
  4. Collect stories from employees about why they are proud to work in your organization. Share these in new hire orientation. Teach your managers to share these on an ongoing basis during the onboarding process.
  5. Make sure each position understands how they make a difference. Use stories to illustrate “line of sight” between their jobs and your organization’s success.
  6. Make sure all customer-facing employees understand how important they are. Communicate and give examples of “To our customers, you are your company.
  7. Ask them to help you help them. Remember the scene in Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise beseeches Cuba Gooding Jr.: “Help me, help you. Help me … help you.” Communicate that message explicitly and implicitly (through your actions).
  8. Create an easily accessed new hire FAQ page on your intranet. Ask your managers and front-line employees to make a list of frequently asked questions, and should-ask questions; in other words, questions new hires should ask, but don’t know enough to know they should ask them. Turn these into an easy-to-use FAQ online resource or booklet.
  9. Coach hiring managers to think of onboarding a new hire as like “onboarding” a guest in a hotel. You want them to: a) Feel welcome; b) Important; 3) Safe and comfortable by removing confusion and ambiguity; 4) Feel comfortable asking for what they want; and 5) Have a positive experience, not just an efficient transaction.
  10. Use stories to illustrate your “behavioral vision.” Your behavioral vision consists of the behaviors that allow your organization to achieve its business goals, make its vision a reality, and deliver on your brand promise. They are also the behaviors that reflect your cultural values. Using stories to communicate your behavioral vision makes it easier for new employees to understand and remember what behaviors provide the most value.
  11. Continually model awareness and attentiveness. Practice being mindful of, and tuned into, how your new hires are doing. Develop what Ritz-Carlton calls “Radar On; Antennae Up,” which means being tuned into what others might want and need, without them having to ask. Doing this doesn’t just make your new hires feel welcome, cared for, and comfortable asking for what they need. It also shows them the level of awareness and attentiveness you want them to bring to your customers.
  12. Make it easy for your hiring managers to do the right thing. The easier you make it for them to do a good job onboarding, the better the job they will do. The more you provide the administrative reminders and “cheat sheets,” and the skill and awareness training, the better they will be in their role. This is especially important for managers who only bring on new people every now and then. There is no way they are going to remember all the little details that can make or break the new hire experience. They especially need to have resources available that enable them to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  13. Remind your current staff about their critical role in welcoming new hires, making them feel comfortable, and helping them live your cultural values and behavioral vision. Make sure they understand that onboarding new employees is everyone’s responsibility.
  14. Do what Joie De Vivre Hospitality does to engage its new hires. Make use of their “newbie eyes.” Ask them for their valuable insights and watch them fall in love with you for it. After 30 days, have them meet with their manager for a conversation about where they see your organization can make improvements. At Joie De Vivre’s properties, the invitation goes something like this: “Because you’re new, you can see things we’re doing that can be improved that we can’t …” To maximize both the value to the employee of these meetings and to your organization, let your new employees  know in new hire orientation that you will be having this conversation. Ask them to keep notes.

 

image from IMDB

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. David Singh

    Great piece David. I used to run Onboarding at Deloitte and know first hand what a difference it makes to both the new hire and the team.

    I wrote a blog post about it recently that some of your readers may enjoy. http://ow.ly/k0lKE

    - David Singh – VP Strategy & Operations at http://www.kiratalent.com

  2. Jason Ginsburg

    Those are 15 very good tips, David. I’ll share them on Twitter.

    Onboarding is so important because it’s new hires’ first exposure to your culture. My agency finds that some companies put a lot of effort into recruiting and retention, but sort of forget the middle step of onboarding and training. But a bad onboarding process can and does drive workers away — especially the talented ones who might wonder if Company X has its act more together than yours does.

    Thanks for reminding us how crucial onboarding is!

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  4. David Lee

    Thanks Jason. Glad you liked the article.

    RE: “but sort of forget the middle step of onboarding and training. But a bad onboarding process can and does drive workers away — especially the talented ones who might wonder if Company X has its act more together than yours does.”

    HUGE POINT.

    I often liken this to the business that spends huge sums of money on clever advertising to get customers through the door, only to drive them back out the door because they didn’t invest in creating delivering a great (or even decent) customer service experience.

    Smart employers put as much creative and financial resources into actually BEING a great place to work as they do telling the world they’re a great place to work.

    Best regards,
    David Lee
    http://www.HumanNatureAtWork.com

  5. Howard Adamsky

    David Lee is right on the money as usual. Great article. My future clients will benefit from his insight and ideas.

    Truth be told, the only thing wrong with Mr Lee is that he does not write often enough. We need more of your stuff David!

  6. Keith Halperin

    Thanks David. These are very good points.

    If I might add an additional one:
    In pre-onboarding, the recruiter/HR person should send a link to a company URL (or a soft-copy form if necessary) which has columns for name, email, phone number, and job title of all the people that the new hire can think of who might be good to work for the company. S/he might also be asked to print it out and bring it to onboarding, so that we might discuss the employee referral program in detail and how much money they’ll make from referring these people…With the possible exception of a promotion or a big raise/bonus, I can’t think of a better time to get someone “engaged’ in the ERP.

    Cheers,
    KH

  7. David Lee

    Thanks Howard for your kind words! I appreciate that.

    I have a bunch of articles over at TLNT.com including

    “Why Your Employees Are Just Not That Into You” :-)

    http://www.tlnt.com/author/dlee/

    Best regards,
    David

    P.S. Hope to see you in San Diego. I’ll be doing a pre-con on using storytelling in talent management

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