Position filled – Now the real work begins

June 30, 2015 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

It’s a day that most hiring managers dream of – the day they find a perfect candidate for their open position.  After weeks of recruiting and months of dealing with having the role unfilled, it’s done.  Now you can get back to focusing on your regular job.


This is exactly the attitude that will lead to you needing to fill the position again in a year or less. You need to consider how you will help your new team member become oriented into their role.  A onboarding plan should be built in order to help your team member ramp-up efficiently and to make them feel like a welcome addition to the organization. According to Bersin by Deloitte, most employers spent $4,000 to recruit new team members.  Add to this the cost of outside recruiters, relocation, and the opportunity cost of having an open position, and the costs start to add up.

The good news is, if you build it, you can re-use it.  Here are some suggestions of re-usable elements that you can build once, share with your peers, and re-use forever!

First, get comfortable with the fact that onboarding is not a one-time activity. And it’s a team sport – so you need to consider how to elicit help from others around the organization to help with the onboarding process.

The areas that you want to include in your plan:

  1. Culture Acclimation
  2. Learning the Business
  3. Quality Work Product Examples
  4. Job Description
  5. Development Plan

Culture Acclimation

Every company is different and their uniqueness lead to their culture. Culture is a hot topic for many companies as it’s a relevant factor for acquisition and retention of team members. It’s important to consider the cultural norms that exist for your company and help your new team member adjust.  For example, when I started in a position with a new company, I jumped straight into building what I thought was effective PowerPoint slides for an upcoming effort.  Little did I know, this company took their PowerPoint templates and fonts very seriously. And even after I worked hours on migrating to the approved templates, then I learned that my supervisor was color-blind so my colorful charts were useless.  The little details can help a new team member adjust faster, thus making them valuable to the organization faster.

What to build? Cultural norms are an area that you can crowd-source – ask your peers and other recently hired people what they wish they had known on their first day.  Start building the list, and add to it periodically.

Learning the Business

Take the time, and recruit others, to help your new team member learn about your company. It’s not uncommon for people to learn about their own team or organization, but start them off with a 360-view of the entire organization.  Bonus is if you have a friendly customer or supplier that you can also introduce them to so that they can learn about the company from an outside perspective.

If they are also new to the industry, introduce them to others outside of your company that may help them gain insight on trends, tools and obstacles that they should learn about sooner than later.  Not only does this help your team member hit the ground running, but it also shows them that they have a support network from the start!

What to build? Start with a list of teams throughout your company and ask key opinion leaders to invest 30 minutes with your new hire to help them learn about the company. Give them an idea of what you would like them to cover so you don’t have overlap or gaps. Bonus if you can get a few people to take them to lunch during their first weeks!  This list is completely re-usable and offer to return the favor by spending time with your peers’ new hires.

Quality Work Product Examples

Not all new hires are created equal – and not everyone shows up with superior skills on their first day.  Why not get ahead of this situation rather than discover that their written communication is an area for improvement AFTER they have sent a poorly written email to your boss?

What to build? Find a few examples of strong communications (email, PowerPoint, reports, etc) that you feel are of a quality that you would want emulated.  If your Corporate Communication team has provided writing guides, make sure your new hire has a copy!

Job Description

Yes, they should already have this one! But most job descriptions set out to define all of the responsibilities, so where does someone know where to start? When I was promoted to my first manager role, my supervisor told me that you have 30 days to learn about your new team/organization, 60 days to figure out areas of improvement, and 90 days to have made a difference. The number of days allowed may vary but the break-down does help.

What to build? Take the job description and prioritize the areas that you want them to dig into in the first 30-60 days (you can do this before you’ve even hired someone).

Make sure they understand the long-term vision that you have for the role/organization so they don’t start going down the wrong path as they dig in.  List specific deliverables that you expect every 2 weeks for their first 90 days. It may seem a little intense but it’s best if the two of you interact more frequently in the first 3 months so they gain insight on your style and expectations, and you learn about their ability to delivery.  Use their 1:1s to check in on their progress.  In the long run, they will grow to be more independent, confident, and capable of delivering the quality that you expect.

Development Plan

Geez, you just hired them and they already need a development plan.  Yes.  Everyone on your team should have a development plan. If you are hiring people to perform at their existing level only, you are not maximizing your investment for your organization. The best part of having a team is growing their skills so they can take on more complex efforts at their existing (or slightly higher) salaries. (Not selfish – they get the skills and you get the work product – go read about how people deserve more than a paycheck).  Rarely, if ever, will the person that you hire be 100% perfect. Everyone has room to grow. After your 90 day effort focused on their job description, you can use the experience, feedback from others involved in their onboarding, and the team member’s input, to build a development plan. This will help the team member feel invested in, and increase the rate of contributions that they will make in their new role.

What to build? Start by identifying 1-2 skills that you want the team member to focus on over the next 90-120 days. Gain their agreement to the skills and how you will measure improvement. Ask them to come up with 4-5 activities that they will undertake to help improve/exercise the skills. Track their progress in their 1:1s every 2 weeks. The skills and activities that you document will be very personal to every team member but you can build a template (if your HR team cannot provide one) that would work for all of your team members. Explain this process to your new hire from Day 1 so they know what to expect.

In total, these activities will help you ensure that your new team member gets the best start possible. The energy that you put into their onboarding will result in higher engagement, faster productivity, and a reduced risk that they will leave the position within the first year.

What is missing? What have you found to be helpful when bringing a new hire onboard? What have you found that was not worth the effort?


Entry filed under: Employee Development, Management. Tags: , , .

Transformational Leadership Developing Your Team

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