10 Tips for getting a new hire up and running

Seen a new face, sat around looking baffled and bored? Being new can be terrifying. It can also be frustrating, as the newbie sits around waiting for people to explain stuff to them, ‘onboarding’ sessions get postponed and a feeling of helplessness descends.

From the employer’s and employee’s perspective, hiring new people is a gamble – and it often doesn’t pay off. Too many new hires don’t make it through their probation period, and far too many more do get through only to leave – or be shown the door – within a year (trust me, I’ve seen and heard the stats from our clients, but my lips are sealed).

What can you do to get your new hires up and running? In a nutshell, get them doing stuff sooner. Your culture, your call: some employers have timetables for inductions; others take a less structured approach. Whether your organisation is big or small, these tips are offered to help. And if you think, “We already do that”, please ask a newbie, and check you really ARE.

  1. Have a rule that after 90 days in the role, all new hires have to deliver a presentation on their first 90 days. What’s going well? What surprised them? What do they love? How does the organisation look different on the inside to the outside? Suggestions? Who you‘ll have in the room depends on the role, seniority and experience. But no matter what, those presentations should be shared with senior managers.
  2. Assign a buddy whose role is to help the newbie get to know where things are, who’s who and those all-important unwritten rules.
  3. Ensure they know how to drive the technology. This includes the phone on their desk. Arrange training / tuition / demos if necessary.
  4. Allocate a mentor who’s more experienced than them but not in a direct line management relationship with them. Brief the mentee on what they can/can’t expect from the relationship and review at 1, 2 and 3 months.
  5. Discuss and agree targets for each week of their first month’s employment. Review progress very frequently at first (probably daily), easing off in subsequent weeks. At the end of the first month, agree goals for month 2.
  6. Essential: ensure there’s a conversation about progress and performance a few weeks prior to the end of the new hire’s probation period. Have it in the calendar from Day 1, including a reminder to update people who need to know, such as HR.
  7. Task the newbie to take copious notes (or everything becomes a blur) and create their own checklists for tasks as they go.
  8. Schedule and keep appointments for frequent but short 1:1 catch-ups. Explain that the new hire will be expected to come with examples of the progress they’re making, and prepared questions.
  9. Does anyone really read the employee handbook? OK, an intranet is better, but I still reckon it’s often only consulted when something’s already going awry. So, give all newbies a quiz about what’s what on Day 1, that they have to complete and hand in to a senior manager (MD, HRD, department head, etc.) by the end of week 1. Any later will be too late: only in their first week will they have time for this stuff.
  10. Ensure that someone has a face-to-face conversation about those tricky things that can really trip up a newbie: social media use, website access and downloading policy, dress code, the working hours.


Update: handy relevant post here in Forbes about ‘how to alienate new hires’

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