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First impressions matter. So being aware of the first impression of a new employee in your company is crucial to his or her future performance. That’s why in this blog I’m taking a closer look at onboarding.
Onboarding somebody into your company is a lot like welcoming somebody into your house. As with all welcomes, it is not just a first coffee and a short introductory chat. It is a continuous demonstration of cooperation and affection. A good onboarding process is paramount for the productivity of your employee and his or her integration with the team. It encompasses everything from the first small introduction over a cup of coffee until the more formal monthly one-to-one meetings. In this blog I will give some practical advice on how you can improve your onboarding process and the integration and engagement of your new employees. If you’re thinking: “well most of this doesn’t apply to us because the COVID-19 crisis is forcing us to work remotely”, think again. Onboarding is now more important than ever to create a well-functioning team, you just need to rethink your structures in a digital matter. More tips on that here.
Handbooks and more
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. As a part of any onboarding process, there are a lot of practical matters and questions that your newly hired employee has. Handbooks are a great way for employees to peacefully read through and find an answer for their questions, in the first turbulent weeks of a new employment. In the same line, make sure that the handbook has a FAQ as well, where the employee can find the most frequently asked questions, just to make it a bit easier for him or her.
It does not all have to be dull practical stuff, however. You can also include more interesting things in your handbook such as:
- A formulated version of your vision, mission, strategy, culture and values.
- An overview of your team members, including pictures, practical information and fun facts.
- An overview of your customers/clients and stakeholders, and a short summary on each and every one of them.
Meeting the team(s)
If you want to feel at home, you need to know who are living in the house. It is therefore important to have meetings with the different teams. Now this is where things become a bit difficult to define. As companies differ in size, it becomes more difficult for them to involve everybody in the process. Meeting the team is a process that starts off large, with a lot of people involved, and is narrowed down over time. Normally the process looks like this:
- An (digital) announcement of the new employee, who he or she is and what he or she will be doing, for the entire company.
- A short (digital) introduction of the employee to the entire company (or a larger part of the company).
- A more thorough introduction with colleagues from different departments with whom the employee will work closely with.
- A meeting with representatives from the HR, Legal, and Facilities/IT departments.
- A meeting with the closest colleagues of the employee (or the entire department).
- One-to-one meetings with the manager.
Introduction and training
After you’re done with shaking hands, just like at home, it is time to take a coffee and sit down to talk about some more serious stuff. In this sense I am talking about more thorough introductions on what the company does and how they do things, what they stand for and how they communicate this. Employer branding is a big topic in these introductions and trainings. You need to give the newly hired employee a good idea of what your brand represents and how this translates in his or her activities.
This is also the moment when an employee gets their first introduction to the internal systems, ways of working and contact persons, including possible clients. In this sense it is good to have a training set up from a more senior employee or somebody from the IT department to make sure that the new employee can work with the systems you use. Client or stakeholder meetings are also a big part of the process. A senior employee should take the new employee with him to introductory meetings with the potential clients and stakeholders so they get an image of who you are working for/with.
Another part of this process are job-specific trainings which can be ongoing, but which get introduced in the onboarding process.
So now that you have bombarded your newly hired employee with as much information as you possibly can, it is time to harvest some information as well. This means: one-to-one meetings with feedback. These are often meetings between the newly hired employee and his or her manager, where both parties can give feedback to one another. These meetings should be held regularly and continuously throughout the career of your employees over at your company. Try to have such a meeting roughly every month with your employees, even their first month. Of course, everything is still fun and games then, so there will not be that much feedback coming from your employee, but try to challenge them even then already. Is there really nothing that the company can improve? How was the first impression? Was it well enough? Is there anything that should be improved? Remember, the image that the company gives of to its own employees often also translate into the same image that they give off to clients and stakeholders.
A good onboarding process is everything from the first handbook until formal meetings with clients and stakeholders. It is a large process which, if done correctly, can kickstart the career of your new employee within your company. In this blog we have given a brief overview of all the essentials. If you want to have a more detailed roadmap of what a good onboarding process looks like, click here.