In my first post, I discussed the most common mistakes trainers make when creating programs. First up, onboarding.
The onboarding process is an exciting period for new hires and the organization alike. Everyone’s excited to get to work—and managers are often too quick to end the training phase because they want to get back to their own work.
As a result, organizations rush or even skip the onboarding process, in favor of more pressing tasks. But onboarding sets the tone for an employee’s relationship with the organization, and it’s essential to get it right. The first months of a new employer-employee relationship are a key opportunity to ensure the new employee understands not only their role in the organization, but the context of their role.
Furthermore, good onboarding helps new employees both embrace and exhibit your company culture. Take the time to cement these ideas early, before you are stuck coping with overwhelmed, underprepared and confused new hires.
Here are the essential first steps for designing your onboarding program.
Recommendations for Creating an Exceptional Onboarding Program
● What are your assumptions? Before you shake your new employee’s hand on their first day, take a step back and take a critical look at your organization and your onboarding program. Too often, employers shift directly into training an employee for their specific roles and responsibilities without introducing them to the organization at large.
When you greet your new employee on the first day, you embody the organization’s attitude towards their team members. You want to make sure you’re starting with a discussion of the organization’s mission and vision, moving on to the goals for this position, and discussing how they fit into the big picture.
● Organize institutional knowledge. As the training manager, it’s your role to ensure new employees have the resources they need to get started effectively. That means ensuring that resources are not simply in your brain or in other employees’ brains: Everything needs to be online, and not simply in blocks of unorganized Word documents. This is the time to start organizing your institutional knowledge (whether in your learning management system or using another internal website), so that new employees are not reinventing the wheel. Think of yourself as the company librarian, who focuses on making sure the resources are curated, well-organized and up-to-date.
● Make the time. As the training manager, not only should you invest a significant amount of time in managing a new employee’s first several weeks of employment—you need to make sure their direct supervisors and peers do the same. Taking the time upfront to ensure that they understand the company’s goals and what they’re expected to accomplish will prevent early miscommunications from snowballing into larger problems down the road.
Specifically, create a sample “new employee” calendar that managers can use to plan a new employee’s experience.
● Get personal. Provide new employees with the opportunity to develop both professional and social relationships with co-workers. Fostering these different relationships—friends, allies, mentors, etc—is crucial for creating a workplace where new employees feel comfortable. Healthy workplace relationships help employees —newbies and veterans alike—enjoy spending time at work, stay motivated, and know where to turn with a question.
Remember that creating an effective onboarding program is an investment. The time you spend fine-tuning your onboarding program will save you time that you would otherwise spend correcting employees in the future. Share your successful onboarding examples in the comments!
About the Author
Kelly Meeker is the Community Manager at OpenSesame, the elearning content marketplace, where she creates, curates and shares with the learning and development community. Find her on her blog at www.OpenSesame.com/blog, on Twitter (@OpenSesame) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.