If you’re not hiring and training new team members on a very regular basis, it’s easy to forget all the elements that go into this extensive and ongoing process. The standard probation or onboarding period for new hires is 90 days for a reason.
Without documenting the elements of training, you’re likely to have to reinvent your training process each time. It’s important that the plan is thought out and ongoing to ensure success for the whole onboarding team.
It’s easy to feel as if the first month of working for a new company is like drinking from the firehose, for both the new hire and the team who is responsible for their onboarding. To ease this process, it’s beneficial to create some standard onboarding plans for all new hires that can be tweaked slightly for various positions. By outlining a detailed plan with specific expectations and deliverables for each week of the onboarding period, both new hires and all members of their onboarding team will have an accessible document to work from and remain on track. This plan should begin on the first day of their training.
From Day One
It might seem easy to skip detailed planning for the first day, assuming that the new hire will just be acclimating themselves to the office. In reality, the moment they walk through the doors on the first day, your new hires are forming lasting opinions of the company as a whole. They’re likely coming in nervous, eager, and interested in learning everything at once.
From day one, encourage the new hire, direct supervisors and their mentor to begin having conversations about expectations, deadlines, and deliverables, as well as how to discuss and manage workloads, by creating time for meetings and outlining the expectations for each relationship.
A new team member’s first day at the office should include the assumed basics, reviewing necessary policies for security and technology, signing of HR paperwork and NDA, as well as general office tours and staff introductions.
However, the first day is also the time to present the foundation of your company’s culture and values. These initial presentations are typically dense in content, giving the overall day a heavy feel. Look for opportunities to include glances at your company personality and successes to foreshadow the more unique elements new hires will be learning later in their onboarding and training.
The first day for a new team member is also a key time for relationship building between your new hire and the rest of your team in a more social setting. At Rocket IT, we like to treat our new team members to lunch on their first day and invite the rest of the team to join us as an initial step in the relationship-building process.
While direct responsibilities are important to grasp, it’s also important that new hires are exposed to the other areas of the company. Throughout their onboarding process, plan for new hires to shadow other team members and explore other departments. By exposing them early on to the other responsibilities and areas of expertise within the company, you’re allowing the new employee to dive further into the company socially and professionally. It will also help them be more informed when interdepartmental needs are outlined, as well as help them see how the various departments work together cohesively.
Shadowing and departmental discovery days should be scheduled regularly throughout the onboarding period and necessary departments and team members should be notified well in advance to ensure that they will be prepared to outline their roles and responsibilities.
Supervisors and mentors are not one and the same. A supervisor is often someone who is evaluating an employee’s performance and managing deliverables, while a mentor is in place to help ensure a new team member’s success, answer questions, and challenge the way they navigate rough roads throughout their time at a company.
When possible, companies should not have the new hire’s supervisor also serve as their mentor. If this is the case, team members might not feel comfortable discussing items like conflict resolution and communicating expectations with their supervisor as they would someone who was removed from their direct daily interaction and deliverables. It’s important that a new hire begins forming positive relationships with both their supervisor and their mentor from the start.
Mentors should be assigned prior to a new hire’s start date so that the mentor is prepared to support his or her mentee. New hires and mentors should meet very regularly throughout the first phase of the onboarding period. A high frequency of meetings early on will help to cement the relationship and ensure that the new hire is aware that they have two avenues to receive support on tasks.
Ramping Up to Autonomy
It’s not reasonable that a new hire will be hitting all of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on day one. Clearly defining benchmarks along the way will allow both your new hire and their onboarding team opportunities to check in throughout the process.
By following a detailed training plan, it’s easy to have conversations surrounding progress and expectations for autonomy with new hires through the onboarding process. Only at the end of this process should they be close to meeting all of their KPIs, but remember training is ongoing and it’s important that there are still avenues for supervisors and mentors to provide support throughout the time of employment.
The Bottom Line: Document the Process for Everyone’s Benefit
Training new team members is an investment back into the company and in time, it will make everyone more productive and happy when it is done right. By creating a standard document that outlines onboarding and training, the entire process will become more consistent and efficient, plus new hires and the onboarding team can have it handy when they need a refresher or they’re preparing to add new members to the team. This will also reduce the time needed to prepare for onboarding and make a new team member starting a faster turnaround.
Onboarding new team members has an impact on other team members’ productivity and work output, and it should, but only for a short time. The end goal is to position your newest team members for success.