Onboarding New Hires

Onboarding New Hires

Everybody shows up motivated for the first day on the job. Unfortunately, for many people at many companies, that’s the most motivated day they’ll ever have. In fact, one study by Booz and Company concluded that 15 percent of all new hires think about leaving on the very first day.

The 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Study found that the average company loses a quarter of their new hires within a year. But you don’t want to be an average company, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Turning over 25% of your workforce is costly and grossly inefficient.

Following the methodology contained in this book does, in fact, create an appropriate level of staff turnover. If you are holding people firmly accountable, you should be removing poor performers periodically. If you have zero staff turnover, chances are you are carrying a lot of dead wood.

If you’ve followed the advice in the last chapter, you’re committed to using a rigorous, disciplined process to hire as many A-Players as you can. It only makes sense to help them become as productive as possible as fast as possible. That’s what good onboarding processes do.

Texas Instruments compared new hires who went through an onboarding process to those who did not. They discovered that those who went through the process were fully productive two months sooner. Corning Glass determined that new hires who went through a formal onboarding process were two-thirds more likely to stay with the company for at least three years.

The gold standard.

My ideas about what a good onboarding process looks like were formed by my experience in the pharmaceutical industry (many years ago!). The company that hired me used a disciplined process to make sure they were hiring the sort of people they wanted. The induction process was every bit as rigorous.

There was a plan that specified what I would be doing every single day for my first five weeks with the company. In the beginning, it was all product knowledge and exams. Then I learned and rehearsed the well-documented sales processes. After that, there were role-plays and making presentations in front of in-house doctors and pharmacists.

Those presentations were videoed and then critiqued while being played back on a big screen. No one continued with the process until they had mastered the presentations.

Then there was time spent in the field observing other staff doing their jobs and being introduced to customers. Finally, I was allowed to start presenting to clinicians in hospitals and medical centers, but with my manager observing and coaching me. That continued until they were completely satisfied that I could handle myself while being bombarded with questions and objections from medical professionals, and that I would represent the company’s products effectively, accurately, and ethically.

What about you?

I know that most companies do not have the ability to design such a thorough and detailed induction process, but the principles are the same. Your process should have two objectives: You want to create a great first impression and you want to make the new hire become productive as quickly as possible.

You may not have a full-service HR department or specialists in onboarding, but you probably have something better. If you’re a small to mid-sized business, you can give a new hire personal attention, because you usually only hire one person at a time. Not only that, you’re flexible and you’re really excited about this new hire because he or she is going to help you achieve your BHAG.

And there’s one more thing, A-Players are different. They’re top performers, and they’re excited about coming to work for you, because they know it’s a good fit for both of you. They’re going to expect you to live up to the impression you made during the rigorous hiring process.

Don’t wait until their first day; reach out and ask what information they want before they start. Schedule some informal get-togethers with the people the new hires will work with. Send them notes reminding them that you know they’re top performers and that you’re excited about them joining the team.

Make it easy for them to do the necessary legal paperwork. You will discover that many A-Players prefer to have that all done when they show up on their first official day.

Tailor your onboarding plan to the individual and your situation. Big companies can’t do that, but you probably can. Find out what the new hire wants to learn and plan to make it happen. List the things and people you want the new hire to become familiar with and help make that easy.

One small trucking company created “cheat sheets” for every new hire. The sheets listed all the people the new hire would work with regularly, along with their nicknames, a brief description of what they did, contact information, and pictures. They also created “if/then” sheets that listed routine tasks (such as submitting an expense report) with brief instructions on how to do it.

Map out their first week.

At the very least, make sure you structure their first five days on the job in detail by the hour. Make sure that the new person meets everyone he or she will be working with as soon as possible. Use lunches as a way for the new person to spend time with those people.

Remember that a new hire joining your company is probably entering a work environment that’s very different from any place that he or she has worked before. Your Core Values and Core Purpose are visible, the BHAG for the company is clear, and so are the Strategic Projects and Metrics (Key Performance Indicators) along with single-point accountability for each one. Roles and reporting relationships are clearly spelled out on Role Scorecards, and your Management Dashboard provides specific performance targets for every person.

Within the first day or so, you should show your new hire his or her Dashboard. That’s the best introduction to what his or her daily life will be like with you. Explain when and how you review performance.

Most people, even A-Players, will not be used to the culture of relentless accountability that you are creating, so assign someone as the new hire’s guide to the onboarding process and the company. The guide’s job is to answer questions and help the new hire make connections during the onboarding period. Pick someone who knows the company well for this role.

10-20-70 Ratio for job training and skill development

I keep this ratio in mind when designing their first 1 to 3 months in a new role. Here’s a quick summary:

10% = Formal learning

Formal training and courses. Understanding the theory. Learning the processes. Certifications and compliance.

20% = Coaching and mentoring

Role-play scenarios. Shadowing others. Performance feedback and coaching from the manager in recurring 1 on 1 meetings. Peer learning and discussion.

70% = On the job experience

Learn by doing. Workplace integration of what has been learned. Apply coaching feedback from the manager. Progressively increased levels of autonomy. Accountability for Metrics and Projects. New assignments.

Excerpted from the book: Business Execution for RESULTS, by Stephen Lynch


Until next time…