Onboarding - get it right

The design and tech industries in the UK are booming so it won't be news to you that there's a real talent shortage at the moment (that's a whole other post).

Finding the 'right' candidate takes time and costs A LOT (not just recruitment fees!) so when you do find the right person, it's never been more important to give them the best possible chance of succeeding.

That means getting your 'onboarding' process right from the get-go and that doesn't just mean from the hirer's point of view (shiny welcome packs n'all) - the candidate and their new colleagues play their part in the process too.

I've built my reputation on finding the right fit but once the candidate walks in on their first day, my influence on their success is minimal. They're in their new employer's hands, so for the good of your business and your career, it's time to step up - both of you.

"don't expect the moon on a stick."

Hirers

So you've hired someone. You've defined their role and you're confident they're the right person for the job. Congratulations. 

They might have a month's notice (or longer) to serve but your onboarding process starts now. Don't leave them on on their own whilst they work their notice - keep in touch and get them into your business whenever you can to develop the relationship you've been building over the interview process. This doesn't have to be a formal thing, but if there's a briefing on a project they'll be involved in, or simply a couple of beers after work one evening, get them over!

Bringing your new starter into the fold early is a great way to introduce them to the team and means there'll be some familiar, (and hopefully) friendly faces staring back at them on that scary first day.

When their first day does arrive don't expect the moon on a stick.

I know recruiters love to use the term 'hit the ground running' but in reality that DOESN'T HAPPEN! Everyone ...EVERYONE.., at whatever level, needs a period of time to get comfortable. Do not expect fireworks the minute they walk in the door and do not set them to work on complex projects at the break of dawn.

Do, welcome them aboard and get them introduced to their team and anyone else they're likely to deal with. Do make sure you've booked out your diary that day to help them settle in and to get them excited about what they're about to embark on. And, crucially, do identify a clear channel for them to go to if they have questions in the days and weeks to come. If you've got the numbers, an employee buddy scheme could be a great option for this (google it - there are loads of examples online).

Check in often. Not just at the end of the first week but at the end of week two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight ...and so on. This might only be a quick 5-10 minute chat but it's so important and it'll help flag any potential issues before they develop into full-blown problems. Probationary periods are typically three months but in reality, it's likely to be nearer six months before your new starter will be fully up-to-speed. Keep that in mind and know that keeping regular, scheduled contact going will help them get there quicker.

All in all, common sense and understanding is what's needed. If you're clear and open with your new starter, give them the space and opportunity to feedback on their experience and don't expect too much too soon, you can be confident you've given them the best chance.

New starters.

You aced the interview and got the job. Well done!

Don't rest on your laurels though. Make sure you're in contact with and available to your new employers as much as you can be - even if you're serving notice.

If you're invited over whilst serving your notice, do your best to get there. Want to know about parking? Forgot to mention a holiday you've booked? Get in touch and ask the question or let them know and make sure you're not dropping any bombshells the moment you walk through the door.

Be enthusiastic. You really wanted this job so don't be afraid to let that show.

Got niggles? Don't be afraid to feedback - the right way of course - and make it clear you want to be a part of ironing them out.

Get to work. You'll be cut some slack in those early days but don't take the piss. You're being paid from day one so get to work proving you've been a great investment and get your teeth into things as soon as you can.

Colleagues.

It's easy to underestimate but as an existing team member, you have a huge say in your new colleague success or failure.

If you work for a dynamic, forward-thinking business that's constantly evolving then embracing new starters should be par for the course. They bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. They keep you sharp, helping you get better so you need to play your part in helping them settle in.

It's a statement of the obvious but that starts with making them feel welcome. We can all remember what a 'first day in the office' is like. Those early days can be stressful so something as simple as saying "hello" in the morning and "see you later" at the end of the day can make all the difference.

Give them the inside track. If they're new to the area let them know about popular haunts and give them the heads up on what they can expect from the softer, social side of things - i.e. "on Friday's a bunch of us like to go for post work drinks here" etc.

Talk to them about the company. Why you joined, where you came from, what you keeps you there and what you're hoping the future holds.

Be a resource for them and let them know you're there if they need you.

  High-five for stock images!!!

High-five for stock images!!!

 

This is not an entire root and branch examination of the onboarding process (drop me a line and we can talk about that) but hopefully, it will give you a few things to bear in mind the next time someone new lands in your business.

In my professional life, there's nothing worse than hearing things haven't worked out for someone. If that's anything to do with you still harbouring the old fashioned sink or swim mentality then your days as an attractive proposition to talent are numbered and your reputation will be in tatters in no time. There's way too much competition out there and your perfect candidate will simply go there instead.

Get it right and you can build a different type of reputation. One that your current employees and new starters can wax lyrically about and one that might just put you ahead of the pack when it comes to landing future talent.

Have you got your own thoughts on the good the bad and the ugly of onboarding? Let me know in the comments.