Onboarding is really really important. Really really really important.
Let me give you a great example.
I was once hired by a company to run their finance systems refresh. This was a million dollar project that had been mandated by their US parent so it was pretty important.
I got the gig and turned up at 8:50 on the Monday morning ready to start work.
When I spoke to the receptionist she looked at me with a mixture of confusion, derision and disdain.
It turned out that the guy who had hired me hadn’t told anyone (he was a blue but then that’s another story).
He hadn’t arranged any resources. I didn’t even have anywhere to sit.
And best of all he’d gone off on two weeks holiday.
So guess how that made me feel.
And guess how I felt towards the company.
Now as an interim I am used to these types of situation but if it was a permanent hire then I can imagine how they would have felt.
Why it’s important
It’s a fact that the key to motivating staff is showing them that they belong, that they are wanted and that they have a place in the organisation.
Employees that feel that they have a valued contribution to make are much more likely to do awesome work and are much more likely to stick around.
So ask yourself the question – would your business be more profitable with highly motivated, committed and keen employees from day one, or by having a high turnover of bored and unengaged people that turn up just for the paycheck?
That’s why it is important.
The first 90 days thing
It’s an established fact that an employee has 90 days to set the tone of their employment.
If they start off being a keen, go-getter who achieves great things then that’s how people will view them for years afterwards.
But the same is true of the business.
If the employee feels valued from day one, if they feel that they are needed and wanted and that they have an important place in your organisation they that’s how they will feel about your company in the future.
You have 90 days to convince your new hires that they belong.
So what should you do then?
The best onboarding experience I ever had was with a company that didn’t have a lot in the way of resources.
I turned up again at 8:50 and sat in the reception with another new start.
Five minutes later a guy walks in and says hello and shakes our hands.
Turns out he’s the CEO and he spent five minutes telling us each how glad he was we’d arrived and how important we were to the future of the company.
How do you think we felt after that?
Just 5 minutes.
A few weeks later I found out it wasn’t a chance meeting. He does it with all his new hires.
Reckons that it’s the human thing to do.
Funnily enough, his company was full of people who were committed, engaged and loyal.
So my first tip is to start an employees’ tenure by telling them how important they are to the future of the business and how they fit in with the mission (oh yeah and what the mission is).
Make sure you do the housekeeping thing.
Tell them where to turn up and when (I normally start my new hires at 10am to allow me time to make sure any urgent issues are dealt with).
Make sure someone is there to greet them
And if you ever start a new person and they don’t have a chair, a desk, an email account and a login to the main system then you aren’t worth the money you are being paid.
Have a first two weeks plan and go through it with them.
Introduce them to the most important people in their job universe and make sure you’ve done all the HR things so they don’t distract somewhere down the line.
A word about mentors
You need to appoint one.
Some companies call them ‘buddies’ but whatever you do you need to provide one.
The mentor needs to be someone who has been with the company long enough to understand the culture and unwritten rules but they also need to be new enough to remember what it was like on their first day.
The mentor needs to be local enough to the newbie to be approachable but not so close that they are the only person your new hire speaks to during the day.
And they need to be positive.
We’re too small, we don’t have the resources
Cop out frankly.
In fact if you are a small company you are in a better place to make sure that your new hire has an awesome onboarding experience than if you are a large corporate.
Even if you are a one-person company and this is your first ever hire then you can still take the time to tell the person how important they are and where they fit in.
Onboarding is a pain.
If you think this then there’s no hope for you.
Bringing new people into your organisation is the best thing ever.
Just imagine what awesome people could do for your business.
It doesn’t take long to work out a standard process for bringing new people in and making their joining experience epic.