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May 10, 2018

Your Top Tips for Onboarding a New Starter

Eleanor Bruce

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You’ve done it. After months of drafting job descriptions, reading CVs, and interviewing the cream of the crop (alongside some less stellar applicants), you’ve finally found that perfect person, and next week they come on board. 

High fives all round!

Your new colleague is ready and raring to go, keen to make an impact as quickly as possible, and will soon be on hand to lighten the load for your team. Phew.

But with that sense of relief comes a brand new set of challenges. How can you get them up to speed as quickly as possible, without breaking their brain or sending them running for the hills?

I’ve heard horror stories about the different ways that managers onboard their new hires. Some new team members were ushered into an office, given their login information (if they were lucky), and told to get cracking. Others were greeted with all of the organization's policies and procedures on Monday, told to read them all, and then tested on Friday. That’s all they did for a week.

It's a great way to get to know the “dos” and “don’ts” of a company, perhaps, but it's not the most enjoyable or effective approach to onboarding someone. And it doesn’t exactly make a good impression on a new team member.

There are some pretty simple, obvious things that you can do to make the induction process useful for your new hire. For example: give them the equipment they need, introduce them to the team they’ll be working with, and show them the fire exit.

But what about the more subtle art of helping people to settle in? What can you do, as a manager, to help people feel comfortable in their new role as quickly as possible?

Your Top Tips for Onboarding

We reached out to our followers on social media to ask for their top tips for onboarding new starters. And, as always, they had plenty of advice to share!

Be Confident

Our Facebook friend, Lasista Davis, made an excellent point about the importance of presenting yourself with confidence and a positive attitude when you're inducting new hires: “It is important to be clear when delegating tasks and assignments to onboard starters, and why the execution of tasks/assignments are necessary. When doing so, keep free from negative statements of workload, co-workers, bosses, and/or other administration personnel.” 

Over on Twitter, Chas Sanders (@JusChas) made a similar point, using a brilliant metaphor: “Make sure they can see and visualize their tasks, environments, and who it impacts. Many train newbies by putting them in the driver's seat blindfolded while giving them directions from the passenger's seat. Huge no!”

Chas continued: “Drive them around, allow them to hold the map (remember that the trainer already knows the route), but give them a summary of the route before pulling off one area at a time regarding where, why, and how.” 

Be Clear

Lindsey (@Limhah7) said: “Be clear on your objectives for induction, then ask the person what THEY want to get out of the induction process. See what the common themes are and start from there.” 

Joynicole Martinez (@JoynicoleM) agreed on the need to be collaborative: “Go beyond issuing a position description. Discuss the role together, identifying where responsibilities and organizational purpose intersect. Listen for what they value in the position and how they expect to contribute. Demonstrate how their work contributes to overarching goals.”  

Be Memorable

And PowerTools (@PowerTools_1) had a great tip on how to make onboarding a bit different: “Invest in experiential, 'gamified' experiences where the group works together toward a goal. Then have a facilitated debrief to highlight communication and working styles, core values of the company, etc.” 

Other tips included making sure that new starters have someone, besides their manager, to speak with:

“1. Find a mentor, a senior person who the new recruit could look up to, and a buddy, a peer who he could move around with. 2. Making the new recruit job-ready should be the responsibility of his/her manager.” Thanks to @PramodDrSolanki (Pramod) for that tip.

Be Patient

Over on LinkedIn, Tracey Hodgson made a similar suggestion: “Have a 30-, 60-, 90-day plan for your expectations but work with the new starter to develop this. Also a buddy system works really well, helps them to feel part of the team from day 1.”

Gemma B (@brewing82), on Twitter, suggested: “Showing them the 'Who's who' board that has everyone's name and photo (for when they forget a name after the flurry of 1st day introductions).”

Back on Facebook, Hala Ezzat suggested not taking first impressions too seriously: “Avoid the first impression… and wait at least 6 months till they get the complete and full picture of the new workplace… study the place while doing your work hard and professionally.”

And, finally, Kristin McCollum (@kmmccollum) reminded us that starting a new job can be overwhelming, so take it slow: “Giving them frequent breaks so as not to overwhelm them, making sure they don't sit in a chair all day listening to an endless rant of policies and procedures. Break up information so it's easily digestible.” 

Thanks to all our friends and followers on social media. You’ve given us a lot of food for thought, with great advice on how to make new starters feel comfortable in their role and engaged from the get-go!


If you have any of your own onboarding tips and tricks to share, please comment below!


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