Onboarding: Five techniques for excellence
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Onboarding: Five techniques for excellence

We don’t have to tell any manager today that it’s important to do onboarding right when you’re integrating a new employee into your organization and culture. You’re all too aware of the risks of unwanted turnover that occur when newbies aren’t brought heart and soul into the fold as soon as possible.

And you probably already have some things you like to accomplish with onboarding. But in a spirit of helping you be the very best you can be at this key process, here are five onboarding techniques from talent management expert Lynn Ware that you might consider incorporating:

  • Skip the data dump. People just starting a job have a lot to do. If you do ask them to take a precious 45 minutes away from their new responsibilities, it shouldn’t be for a meeting where somebody merely repeats a bunch of information that could be found, say, in the employee handbook. What nitty-gritty information you do take their time to pass on should focus on need-to-know stuff — for example where to get timesheets and how to submit them.

This New Thing Called Micro-learning

  • Design learning so that new skills are applied right away. It’s no good putting a new person in a classroom-type setting, only to have her wait six weeks to start doing what she learned. Instead, have managers integrate any learning of new skills with immediate opportunities to practice them.
  • Assign the employee’s first project so he must work with others to succeed. Remember, part of the challenge is to help the new hire feel — and be — accepted by his peers. That process is accelerated when the person engages in meaningful teamwork from the get-go.
  • Give the new employee initial tasks that leverage her strengths. This way you do two good things: Help the person build confidence, which boosts effectiveness, and allow her to construct a reputation for competence that will encourage others to accept her.
  • Use “buddies” who haven’t been around forever. You may already have heard about assigning the new hire a “buddy” to guide him through the unofficial maze of workplace relationships and keep her away from any “third rails” that everyone knows about but no one discusses. If you do this, make sure the buddy is still new enough to remember what brand-new people don’t understand yet: Two or three years’ seniority is about right.

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