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Getting a Good Start

Quick tips for better onboarding

Companies summarize their onboarding objectives in many ways, but ultimately it comes down to putting new hires in a position to succeed. Here are some solid starting points we found in our discussions and research.

Preboarding – Onboarding should start before an employee’s first day. Recruitment expert Anja Zojceska stresses the importance of preparing not only the new employee, but the employee’s direct manager, peers and direct reports before the first day at the company. A first day’s itinerary should be sent to the employee ahead of the first day, along with other documents that are routinely presented on the first day, such as a company handbook or HR policies.

Make them feel part of the team on Day 1 – This can be especially challenging in the current environment where no one is reporting to an office, but over the past two years, successful teams have developed ways to foster collaboration and maintain camaraderie. New hires should be introduced to the full team through a virtual call and made aware that everyone is invested in the new employee’s success, says Michael D. Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days.”

Assess your onboarding tech tools – Companies can become complacent about the technology they use to communicate with and train employees. Negative experiences with tech tools may be most impactful when someone is starting at a company. It can result in unnecessary challenges early in their tenure and create doubt in their minds that management is committed to their success.

Create a list of required competencies – You should be able to present new hires with a list of skills that your top performers possess and an agenda that shows when and how they will be reviewing and learning those skills during the onboarding process.

Encourage individuality – It was 2013 when London Business School Professor Daniel Cable wrote about “personal-identity socialization,” for MIT Sloan Management Review. “When newcomers are ‘processed’ to accept an organization’s identity, they are expected to downplay their own identities, at least while they are at work,” Cable wrote. “Personal-identity socialization involves encouraging newcomers to express their unique perspectives and strengths on the job from the very beginning and inviting them to frame their work as a platform for doing what they do best.” Seems like advice that remains sound some nine years later.


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Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan is the editor of Sales & Marketing Management magazine.

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