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The Manager’s Toolbox for Onboarding

March 17, 2017, Brianna Crawford - A manager's approach to onboarding can make or break a new hire’s experience with your organization.
The Manager’s Toolbox for Onboarding

In our recent post, Deliver an Onboarding Experience Fit for a Rockstar, we shared four ways HR and talent leaders can improve new hire onboarding to drive employee engagement, retention and productivity. While HR and talent leaders play an obviously critical role in leading and setting the tone of new hire onboarding, hiring managers play just as important a role. Managers are the ones on the front lines who have (or should have) the most one-on-one interaction with new hires, so their approach to onboarding can make or break a new hire’s experience with your organization. After all, half of us have quit a job because of a bad boss. So what can individual managers do to better onboard their new hires?

One study found that almost half of the new hires surveyed said their manager failed to send a welcome message to colleagues before their arrival. And nearly 20 percent didn’t have a workstation their first day on the job. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s probably not the best way to make a new employee feel welcomed. In this post we’ll highlight simple things managers can do throughout an employee’s first year to successfully onboard their new hire. We also asked a few managers for their advice on what they’ve found is most effective when it comes to onboarding a new employee.

Here is a checklist of things hiring managers can do that, although simple, go a long in way in providing new hires with a great onboarding experience:

1-2 Weeks Prior to Start Date:

  • Call or send an email to the new hire sharing your excitement that they are joining the team.
  • Get the paperwork process started with HR so all forms are completed prior to the employee’s first day—you don’t want to waste valuable time on the first day filling out forms!
  • Ensure the new hire’s computer, email and phone are set up, and that their desk has all the supplies they’ll need. (Decorating their white board with welcome messages from the team is a nice touch!)
  • Ease first-day jitters by making sure the new hire has all the information they’ll need to know for the first day (parking, security, etc.). Provide a schedule for the first day so they know what to expect.
  • Add new hires to any newsletters or distribution lists ahead of time so there are a few items in their inbox they can review upon starting.

"If possible, invite your new hire in for a coffee or out for an informal lunch to meet with some of the key team members prior to her/his start date. It will ease some of those first-day jitters and make day one that much smoother, while giving the rest of your team time to get to know their newest colleague." – Heather Mann, VP, Guardian Labs

First Day:

  • Arrive early (before the new hire!) to prepare for their arrival.
  • Send an introductory email to the team about the new hire.
  • Give the new hire a tour of the office, making informal introductions as you go. If your new hire is located in a different office, it’s important for you to arrange to physically be there to greet him or her on their first day if feasible.
  • Have lunch with your new hire on their first day, and make sure he or she has a co-worker to eat lunch with each day of the first week.
  • Deliver some branded company swag to the employee or have it waiting for them at their desk when they arrive. Everybody loves swag.
  • Schedule introductory meetings throughout the new hire’s first week with colleagues he or she will be working with frequently.
  • Encourage your new hire to utilize the company’s social and collaboration tools (if you have them) for connecting with colleagues and finding quick answers to their questions. Also encourage new hires to follow the company’s social channels.

"The first touch points with a new hire are very important and will help determine their success with the company. You can never underestimate the smallest of gestures to welcome them and make them feel comfortable." – Dalyn Wertz, Executive Director, Indirect Channel Management, Comcast Business 

First Week: 

  • Start discussing short- and long-term performance goals, starting the new hire off with some “quick win” small projects. It’s never too early to set goals and expectations.
  • Spend time at the end of each day (at least 15-30 minutes) for the first two weeks having debriefing meetings.
  • Assign the new hire a mentor.
  • Discuss your new employee’s career goals, assigning training opportunities that are aligned with both organizational objectives and their targeted career path.

“I try to have at least 30 minutes of check-ins each day for the first two weeks. It's also really important to invite the new team member to as many of your meetings as possible. Shadowing is a great way to learn how the teams work together, who does what and how meetings are run.” Randi Stock, Vice President, Consumer Engagement Marketing, Everything But the House

First 90 Days:

  • Ensure onboarding is well integrated with learning and development (training, coaching, certification programs, etc.) and track new hire’s training progress.
  • Ask your new hire how their role compares to what they had expected and what was described throughout the interview process.
  • Check in with the new hire frequently, with more formal sit-downs at 30, 60, and 90 days, to ensure they’re successfully transitioning into their new role.

“A clear plan of what is expected from the new hire in the first 90 days is critical. Make sure to set up a weekly check-in to get feedback on how the employee is adjusting to their new position. Are they getting what they need from a resources standpoint in the organization? Are there any roadblocks keeping them from achieving their 90-day plans? Do they need any support from you? Keep the lines of communication open so you have a good pulse on how they are progressing. By doing this, you can also provide feedback on anything the new hire needs to do differently.” Alex Vaccaro, Sr. Director of Marketing Programs, Saba Software

First Year:

  • Encourage the new hire to share their own feedback on the onboarding process, and provide insights into what and who has been particularly helpful during their onboarding.
  • Use the one-year milestone as an opportunity to properly thank the employee for all their hard work over the past year.
  • Review and formalize the employee’s career development plan.
  • Ask the employee if they’d be willing to share their experiences by acting as a mentor for other new hires.

"The first year will set the tone and pace of the relationship between the employee and the employer. Encourage an open dialogue to establish the correct rapport and tone of trust and sharing. Establish a cadence for checking in and providing feedback; this will increase confidence, pride and drive the right behavior and results."Dalyn Wertz, Executive Director, Indirect Channel Management, Comcast Business 

A great onboarding experience really sets the stage for an employee’s tenure at your organization, but it’s not just the employee that benefits from improved onboarding. Manager satisfaction increases by 20 percent when their new hire has a structured onboarding program, and organizations report better onboarding results in higher retention, performance and productivity. By performing these simple “to-do’s” throughout a new hire’s first year, managers can help facilitate an effective onboarding strategy and set their new employee up for a successful career at your organization.

 

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