Ensure Success

10 ways to avoid common onboarding mistakes.

Onboarding truly matters. A successful onboarding experience will impact both you and your new hires for months to come. That’s why planning ahead is (not surprisingly) your key to bringing and keeping hires who will stay for the long haul.

Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid, and suggestions on how to make onboarding a rewarding experience.

1. Don’t wait until your new hire arrives to set up meetings and onboarding. Planning ahead demonstrates to the new employee that they are valued and that you are excited for them to start.

2. Don’t forget the importance of being available. Set up brief one-on-one sessions with new employees every day of their first week and on an ongoing basis to give them a chance to ask questions and feel confident they have your support.

3. Don’t disregard the importance of a buddy system. Assign someone from the team to be their onboarding buddy to guide them through the first few months on the job.

4. Don’t treat the new hire’s start date as an ordinary day. Welcome them with swag and an excited attitude to make them feel like a part of the team right away.

5. Don’t keep new hires in the dark. Be super clear about the agenda for the first week to make the unknown feel as comfortable a possible and help them plan ahead.

6. Don’t be ambiguous about the new hire’s role, responsibilities, and expectations. Make sure they are written down and communicated verbally.

7. Don’t overwhelm a new hire with grueling eight-hour, single-day orientations that overload them with information. Prioritize the most important in-person training sessions first, and offer supplemental materials that can be reviewed on their own time over the course  of the first three months.

8. Don’t neglect team introductions or forget to announce the new hire to the greater team. Help facilitate introductions so the new team member can start building relationships. This is critical to making new employees feel comfortable in their new environment.

9. Don’t ignore the power of a first assignment. Give guidance and guardrails to your new hire and empower them to succeed in the role. Work together on an assignment and set aside time regroup at the end. Talk through what worked – and what didn’t. Giving clear feedback early in the relationship will pay off in the long run.

10. Don’t miss the chance for team-building events such as welcome lunches that encourage cultural assimilation. Be sure to plan events that foster a sense of community.

Contributing editor, business coach and co-founder of TrueWinds Consulting Fred Haskett often writes about a wide variety of management issues, including planning, training, recruiting, and sales and marketing. You can reach him at fred@truewindsconsulting.com
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