A Leader’s Guide to Onboarding a New Employee

Photo by Sarah Shaffer on Unsplash

Adding a new employee to the team is an exciting time. It can also be stressful for the manager/leader since onboarding takes time away from the daily tasks at hand. At the same time, it is stressful for the new employee as he/she isn’t always sure what to expect. Great leaders find the time to set the tone for the new team member by spending time training him/her. Taking the time to onboard a new employee immediately demonstrates that the new employee is valued. It is critical that leaders go out of their way to ensure the new employee understands the business, brand, values and culture. Below are some leadership tips to help you properly onboarding a new team member.

Check in With Your Other Teammates
Anytime you hire a new employee, it is a great time to check in with your other employees to see if they are enjoying their assigned projects and clients. If they have are getting bored or have developed an interest in another area, consider shifting things around and assigning those tasks to the new employee or other team members. This will ensure you keep your employees engaged and motivated.

Determine His/Her Roles, Responsibilities and KPIs
Prior to the employee’s first day, it is imperative that you outline his/her role and responsibilities. Once the employee starts, it is important to review the roles, responsibilities and key performance indicators (KPIs) with the new employee.
As a leader you are creating a clear road map for the employee and ensuring the employee understands what success looks like and what is expected. Your other team mates should also be aware of the new employee’s roles and responsibilities as well.  

Make His/Her First Day Special
Joining a new team/company is a career milestone and these milestones are meant to be celebrated. On the first day, employees should receive a warm welcome by having the manager take the employee to lunch, introducing team members to the new employee (don’t send them around by themselves), sending a kind welcome email, provide items with the company logo, and much more. For additional inspiration read the The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Make it a day to remember!

Prepare an Agenda for the Day
You wouldn’t wing a client meeting and you shouldn’t wing your new employee’s first day. Instead, create an agenda for the day and review it with the employee at the beginning of the day. This will ease any potential anxiety for the new employee as the expectations for the day are clearly set. Nothing is worse than having an employee sitting around on the first day with nothing to do as it sets a bad first impression. In addition, it will allow you to build time into the agenda to step away and check in on your other responsibilities for a short period of time.

Introduce the New Employee to His/Her Key Stakeholders
Take time to personally introduce the new employee to each team member. By conducting the introductions you are helping the new employee create relationships and you can provide valuable background information about each persons’ roles and responsibilities and how they will interact together.

Tools for the Job
Ensure the employee has a clean desk, business cards, a computer with the applicable software, email, pen and paper, provide access to the shared drive, company roster, and anything else the new employee may need. All of these items should be awaiting the new employee when he/she walks through the door. By taking the time to prepare, the employee will be able to hit the ground running.

Ask About His/Her Career Goals and Favorite Parts of the Job
When you hire a new employee, you likely have a set idea about what clients they will serve and/or the projects he/she will be assigned. In order to keep people excited about the job, they have to have some projects they are truly excited about. The best thing a leader can do is to ask them a series of questions to help keep them motivated:

  • What type of career growth do you hope to have at the company?
  • What are your favorite projects or tasks from past jobs?
  • What are the things that drain your motivation?

When you ask these questions, you are showing you genuinely care about the new employee. The next step is to act on the knowledge you have by incorporating what you learned into the new employee’s workload. If possible remove or minimize the draining tasks. It is important to remember that even employment relationships are a two-way street and it is vital for your employees to be happy in their jobs.

Empower Team Members to Help Train the New Employee
As the leader you should not be the sole trainer. Instead, empower your team members to train the new employee on their areas of expertise. By delegating out the training responsibilities, it provides an opportunity for each team member to bond with the new employee and it allows the seasoned team members to share their knowledge and grow their leadership skills. Further, it demonstrates how you value your employees’ contributions to the team.

Discuss Leadership Style and Preferred Modes of Communication
Each person has a preferred method of communication and leadership style. For example, you may prefer face-to-face interactions, while the new employee may prefer email communication. Take the time to discuss each of your preferred modes of communication and then find a common ground to ensure open lines of communication at all times. Additionally, it is important to set expectations about what you want to be looped in on and when. By outlining your expectations in the beginning, the new employee will be able to successfully navigate how you and the team operates.

Reinforce the Company’s Values, Culture, and Share the Strategy
In order for the employee to be successful, he/she must understand the company’s values, the culture and the strategy. While the new employee likely read about these things in the company handbook or learned about it in orientation, it is important for the leader to discuss these important items with the employee. Further, the leader should explain how the values, culture and strategy relates to the team and how the employee can make an impact.

Explain the Business
It is important for the new employee to understand how the business operates. This includes learning the lingo (provide an acronym document), departments, and work flow processes.

Publicly Acknowledge A Job Well Done by the New Employee
In the beginning new employees are working hard to establish relationships and build credibility with his/her stakeholders. You can help him/her by publicly acknowledging a job well done. By doing so, you are demonstrating you value the work that was done and you are lending your credibility to elevate him/her within the company. Good leaders hire great people. When they win, you win!

Check In Daily and Setup a Weekly One-On-One Meeting
It is important to set aside time to meet with the new employee on a regular basis. During these meetings you can provide him/her with feedback about their performance. Additionally, take this time to ask the employee how they are doing and ask him/her what you can do to help him/her succeed. Taking the time to listen to his/her questions, concerns, and wins is the key to leadership. It is essential that you take the time to be there for your employees and find ways to help them develop.

For more onboarding tips, read Steps for Creating a Positive Onboarding Experience for New Employees by Brian Platz. What other tips do you have for onboarding a new employee? Leave a comment.

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