Bad Hire or Bad Onboarding? 10 Tips for Successful New Hire Assimilation

Yes, there are “bad hires.” You spend a lot of time screening and interviewing and making a final decision. You get your new employee on board and there is a honeymoon period. Reality sets in, and you realize that this is not a match at all. There is lack of productivity, conflict with peers, offensive behaviors, etc. and you have the painful task of termination. And, you have lost a lot of money in the process.

When It’s Not a Bad Hire and Things Do Not Go Well

Sometimes, however, lack of “fit” of a new employee may be a matter of poor onboarding processes. Somehow that new hire never quite settles in; perhaps s/he has been placed on a team the members of which are all of different generations. If the workplace environment does not meld those generations well, new employees can be very uncomfortable. Perhaps the newbie is not sure of expectations for performance; maybe a mentor has not been assigned or a mentor was assigned who was not a good fit. The goal of onboarding is to welcome the new employee, provide him/her with solid and comprehensive orientation information, and spending time in those early months making sure that things are going well for that individual. This is how you keep good talent. Here are ten tips that can serve as a checklist of sorts during the onboarding process.

Tip 1 – Prepare your team for the new hire. Give them background information and a rundown of the skills and talents this new individual brings to the team. At the same time, continue contact with the new hire before his/her start date. Send emails with bits and pieces of information about the team; reassure him/her that everyone on the team is anxious to begin welcoming him/her aboard.

Tip 2 – Streamline the Housekeeping Stuff. Employees do not need to spend time in a room filling out paperwork for their benefits enrollment, their tax forms, etc. These should be online so that the new hire can get all of that done on his/her own time before reporting on the first day. There are many other parts of orientation that can also occur online. Identify those and develop them. Employees can then take that training at their own pace; if new hires are at satellite locations, they won’t have to travel to a central point for orientation activities.

Tip 3 – Provide your new hire with a transparent and open explanation of the organizational structure of the organization. Explain the hierarchy and why each individual is important. And take that new hire around and introduce them to those high-end stakeholders.

Tip 4 – There is also an informal hierarchy in place. That might be an administrative assistant who can manage to get almost anything done quickly and expertly. It might be one of the maintenance crew who, if feeling appreciated by you will move you to the top of his/her “to-do” list. It’s important, too, that a new hire know who may be adversaries of your team and why. You don’t have to air all of the dirty linen from decades, but it’s good to paint a realistic picture of how things stand now.

Tip 5 – Don’t ignore the small stuff. Give a full tour so that a new hire knows where everything is. Sometimes, comfort level is heightened beyond what we know when we spend time on the minor things that we take for granted.

Tip 6 – Create a dictionary. Every organization has its own “language,” jokes, jargon, and acronyms. Make sure that your new employee has a sheet or two that explain these.

Tip 7 – All employees come to a new job with big hopes. It’s important to be mindful of that at all times and to help ensure that employee that his/her hopes and dreams are doable in your organization. Talk about opportunities that your team members have and that have been provided in the past. It’s important that a new hire maintains optimism as s/he moves through the first months and year or two.

Tip 8 – Have an open one-on-one meeting with your new team member. You need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. What is your leadership style? What are your “hot buttons?” How do you work through stress? Don’t make a new member learn all of this by experience and guessing. If you are honest, your employee will feel comfortable being honest too. Suppose, for example, that s/he has great programming skills but is really challenged in the area of writing. This gives you the opportunity to point that employee in the direction of perhaps an online business writing program to improve those skills. Give this help in the mode of a “servant leader,” and it will be well-received.

Tip 9 – Make a big deal of that first day. All team members must be welcoming, friendly, and genuinely happy to have this new member on board. A special lunch or happy hour is called for. And that is something that might be incorporated into a discussion of projects over the first few months.

Tip 10 – Make some fun. Google and Facebook have rather set the bar for a fun work environment, but they also see to it that productivity occurs. Be sure that your new hire understands that among the open-air collaborative and friendly environment, the workout room in the lower level, the lounges, etc., productivity expectations with deadlines are still in place. The right balance of fun and work must be communicated.

Getting a new team member that you have selected is exciting. There will always be a honeymoon period. To make that honeymoon move into a stable and long-term marriage, start with the right onboarding strategies.

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