Priority boarding

Nov 12, 2018
People, not processes, are the key to onboarding success. To help your new hires settle in quickly, follow these simple steps.

For an employee, a new job means a rare opportunity to  make a fresh start. People often join companies with enthusiasm and ambition, but if your induction process consists of signing forms and reading business procedures, you are probably missing a critical opportunity to capitalise on this new energy. While all companies will have certain documentary procedures to complete, hiring managers should exert considerable influence on the onboarding process to ensure that it revolves around people – not processes.

At the end of day one, your new hire should go home knowing that they made the right decision and the best way to achieve this is to introduce them to the organisation through colleagues at all levels. Now, this doesn’t mean walking the floors and introducing the new hire to 300 people in less than an hour; you should arrange a number of strategic meetings with relevant personnel. This will allow the employee to learn about the organisation through the eyes of other employees and also, help them figure out who can answer their questions on specific subjects. The latter is probably the most important aspect as getting new hires up to speed quickly is an imperative for any organisation. Newcomers are expected to be a drain on productivity in the early stages, as there will inevitably be a learning curve associated with any new role. However, the best hiring managers will take a longer-term view of the induction process and see the value in spending time with their newest team member and socialising him or her into the organisation. In truth, it can take up to 20 weeks for professionals to reach “full productivity” according to research published by Mellon Corporation in 2003, but helping new hires establish a broad network in the early days of their new career can speed up this process considerably while also making the employee feel more at home in their new workplace and better connected to the organisation.

In 2005, the respected MIT Sloan Management Review listed five rapid on-boarding myths that can sabotage a firm’s efforts to onboard new hires: the best newcomers can fend for themselves; a massive information dump allows newcomers to obtain what they need; cursory introductions are all that’s needed; first assignments should be small, compact and quickly achievable; and mentors are best for getting newcomers integrated.

So here are some rules to follow: never start a new hire when you are unable to spend time with them; facilitate introductions throughout the organisation and encourage the new hire to seek information from their new network as questions arise; walk through key tasks with your new hire and expect them to take longer than usual at the beginning; and involve existing employees in the onboarding process as that will cultivate a firm-wide responsibility for helping newcomers integrate into the firm. And finally, spend time helping your new hire understand the company’s appraisal process; according to Havard Business Review’s Dick Grote, this is one of the most important – and most neglected – onboarding tasks for any hiring manager.

You can read this and more in the Accountancy Ireland and Barden Hiring Guide.