Congratulations – if you followed our tips from our last post, you have a new hire joining your team who has the potential to be a high performer and make you successful! Did I say ‘potential’? Yes, I did. What happens next is critical for their success, and yours.
Do You Use The Sink or Swim Approach?
Almost half of new hires fail in the first 18 months on the job. Unfortunately, many managers use this sink or swim approach with new hires, throwing them into the pool without the proper guidance and support they need. If you made a great hire, chances are they will quickly get themselves up to speed on their own. Good for you! But that’s rolling the dice. Do you want to gamble with your new hire’s chances for success?
You Must Improve Your On-boarding Process
Your on-boarding process is how you integrate your new hire into their role. The high failure rate of new hires is the most obvious reason to on-board effectively. A second risk is that your new hire will take longer to get to a state of high performance. If left on their own, they don’t know how things work and will have to rely on what has worked for them in the past, or a trial and error approach. What is it worth to you to accelerate their performance by 2-4 months?
Your on-boarding process also has an impact on you and the rest of your team. It’s the ripple effect. If the performance of your new hire is accelerated, then your performance is accelerated, as are others on your team. There is also the impact on your team’s dynamics. Any time that you add a new team member, your team dynamics change. If your new hire gets off on a positive note, your whole team will be more positive.
The Steps of Successful Integration Into a New Role
To get to a state of high performance, a new employee goes through a series of questions or steps in their integration into their role. It isn’t as simple as a straight line from start to high performance, but this is a great model to consider as you plan your onboarding process (from the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model):
- Orientation: Answers the question of “Why am I here?” When properly resolved, your new hire has a purpose, understands their role on the team and begins to feel like a member.
- Trust-building: Answers the question of “Who are you?” If properly resolved, you, your new hire and your team trust and respect each other, are more honest with each other, and are able to rely on each other.
- Goal Clarification: Answers the question of “What am I doing?” When resolved, the new hire understands what goals he or she is expected to achieve, how their goals are aligned with those of the team, and other team member’s goals.
- Commitment: Answers the question of “How will I do it?” In this step, the new hire understands how they are expected to accomplish their goals, the resources required, and the support that is needed from others for success.
- Implementation: Answers the question of “Who does what, when, and where?” When resolved, clear processes are established, actions are aligned and there is disciplined execution.
The result of successfully executing the above will be high performance for your new hire. It is important that you start at the beginning with an effective orientation, a focus on building trust, clarifying the goals and gaining commitment.
Key Actions to Effective On-Boarding
Make your new hire your top priority during their first month on the job. This will accelerate their performance and create a positive sense of well being for the employee. Here are steps you and your team can take.
First and foremost, make your new hire your top priority:
- Plan ahead so the new hire has the work space, equipment, IT support, systems logins, supplies and other needed ‘stuff’ when they walk in the door. Have their name in their work area.
- A good portion of the first day will be devoted to signing paperwork and reading at least some documentation. Organize this necessary activity so that it is efficient and as meaningful as possible (For example, have another employee walk the new hire through portions of the employee handbook as it makes sense.)
- Plan to spend a good amount of 1:1 time with your new hire in the first two weeks to continue building a solid, positive relationship. You could focus on getting to know them better and vice versa, their role and how they fit into the team, and their goals for the next year including at least one development goal. I highly recommend that you tell them about your communication style and work preferences so they understand how to best work with you. Ask them to do the same. If you want help with that, I recommend the DISC profile.
- Work closely with your new hire to develop a 30-day plan to accelerate their performance on the job. Since they are new to the organization, be direct in your recommendations.
- Schedule daily check-ins with your new hire, and a more in-depth debrief meeting at least once a week, to check on questions or concerns they may have, their progress toward their goals, and redirect as necessary. Don’t wait for some magical timeframe, such as the end of a probationary period, to give them feedback. Focus on immediate feedback and aim for a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative feedback.
Make your new hire a top priority for your team:
- Assign a mentor to your new hire and make sure that mentor knows what you expect them to do. That could include making key introductions, 1:1 time with the new hire, scheduling lunches with other members of your team, etc. Bonus: this is a development opportunity for someone on your team who aspires to be a manager!
- Allocate a significant amount of time in your team meetings to effectively integrate the new hire. You could have everyone share personal information, including his or her work styles via an assessment such as DISC. Make time to discuss team values, priorities, metrics, key processes, and other information on how the team operates. You should also discuss everyone’s role, goals, and expected dependencies with the new hire so they know how they fit in, and who to go to for information.
- Have your employees schedule 1:1 follow-up meetings with the new hire to have more in-depth discussions.
- Most organizations have key metrics and processes to manage their business. It can be confusing to suddenly find yourself in the middle of a complex organization or process. Ensure that process or metric owners get your new hire up to speed so that they are more effective.
This may seem like a lot to do, especially if you have been using the ‘Sink or Swim’ approach. Have you heard the phrase, ‘Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast’? This is a perfect example. Successful onboarding increases the chances of retaining your high potential new hire, and accelerates their performance, as well as your own, and your team’s.