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7 Ways to Set Up a New Hire for Success

July 8,2019

7 Ways to Set Up a New Hire for Success

Understand their challenges. Onboarding is among the toughest types of job transitions. Why? Because new hires, even if they are experienced professionals, are unfamiliar with the business, don’t understand how things really work, lack established relationships, and have to adapt to a new culture. Research has shown that challenges in the latter two categories are the biggest reasons for quick turnover. New employees have to learn a lot and may be feeling quite vulnerable, even when they seem outwardly confident. That’s even more likely to be the case when people have relocated for their jobs, so also face change in their personal lives, or if they’re moving up a seniority level, so must adapt to a new managerial role.

Some might respond by working it safe and sticking too much to what they already know; others may overcompensate, behaving like they have “the answer,” rather than asking questions and figuring out how to add value.

So it’s important for bosses to reassure recent hires that learning is more important than doing in the early days.

Accelerate their learning

The faster a new hire understands about the organization and their role, the more they will be able to accomplish in the critical first months. To accelerate the learning process, managers must first focus on what focus on what they need to learn in three areas. Technical training is insight into the fundamentals of the business, such as products, customers, technologies, and systems. Cultural learning is about the attitudes, behavioral norms, and values that contribute to the unique character of the organization. Political learning focuses on understanding how decisions are made, how power and influence work, and figuring out whose support they will need most.

Bosses should also think of how they can help new employees. This means not only personally contributing, as early as possible, the best available information but also thinking about who else is best placed to impart those important lessons.

Make them part of the team.

While it’s possible that new hires will work independently, it’s more likely they will be part of a team (or teams). The earlier they build effective working relationships with their peers, the better, and there’s a lot a hiring manager can do to make this happen.

The starting point is to make sure the team understands why the person has been hired and what role(s) they will play. It’s also important that bosses formally introduce new employees — to everyone — as soon as possible after their arrival and make it clear that teams are expected to help their new colleagues acclimate and move up the learning curve. A small initial investment of time and effort in correlating the new hire with the team will pay long-term productivity and performance dividends.

Connect them with key stakeholders.

Outside of the new hire’s immediate team, there are likely to be many other stakeholders who will be crucial to not only their learning but also their success on the job. And it may not be evident who those people are, why they’re important, or how best to connect with them.

One simple way bosses can facilitate these connections is to make a list of names, including brief notes on each, and then make introductions, explaining why it’s important that they connect. Then register a date, perhaps in 30 to 45 days, to check in with the stakeholders to make sure that the new hire’s network is taking shape

Give them direction

Employees can’t — or shouldn’t — get to work before bosses set clear expectations. The right direction helps them answer three key questions:

• What do I need to do? This means defining their goals and the timeframes for accomplishing them, as well as the measures that will be used to evaluate their progress.

• How should I go about doing it? This means being specific about what strategies they should use to achieve the goals, including what activities they should and should not prioritize.

• Why should I feel motivated to accomplish it? This means communicating a vision for what the organization is striving to accomplish and helping new hires see the part they play in realizing it.

Help them get early wins.

Early wins are a powerful way for new employees to build confidence and credibility. People new to a job and organization often want to prove they can do it all and fall into the trap of trying to take on too much, too soon, thereby spreading themselves too thin.

Coach them for success.

Finally, bosses who are serious about onboarding don’t just provide intensive early support then leave new hires to “sink or swim.” It takes time for new employees to become fully blended and able to operate 100% autonomously and productively, so it’s important for hiring managers to continue to combine with and coach their people. This can be as easy as scheduling regular “how are things going?” check-ins, perhaps every couple of weeks, until there is nothing left to talk about.

Also, when managers see new hires struggling, they should intervene. It’s a common mistake to treat new hires too gently, thinking it’s best to give them time to adapt and that early issues with, say, peer relationships and cultural fit, will resolve themselves. But this can easily build vicious cycles in which employees unknowingly dig themselves into holes from which they can’t climb out. The longer a negative dynamic persists, the more difficult it is to reverse.

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