3 keys to long-term onboarding success

3 keys to long-term onboarding success

Meagan Palatino
April 14, 2016

We’ve been discussing employee onboarding in a recent series of posts, covering important topics ranging from day 1 right through day 30. One month is a solid period of time for a new hire to get acquainted, yet onboarding is a perpetual process leading straight through 90-days, and in many cases beyond. UrbanBound’s data rich infographic observes that up to 20% of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment. As managers shaping your teams, the onus is on you to follow through with successful onboarding. Let’s explore 3 keys to long-term onboarding success.

Own the onboarding process

One of the most common reasons we hear about why individuals are unhappy at work is discontent with their manager. This is also often what drives them to seek another job, often times at another company. Becoming a successful and respected manager is a journey in itself, but a great starting point is simply being present. Sit near your team, attend daily stand-ups when you can, hold regular check-ins, respond to important requests instantly, and listen. If you do only those things, your new hires will know that you are trying.

Employees want to be onboarded by their managers and their direct team. In general, we discourage managers from relying on your HR team as the sole function responsible for employee onboarding. The success of a new hire and their retention in the company is very much driven by their direct team — manager, peers, and direct reports.

Recognize them early on

By owning the process and becoming a present manager you will learn and observe more about your new hire and their place on the team. Take this opportunity to openly recognize them. Be responsive over email and if they send you a draft, prioritize reviewing with feedback. If they are an engineer, suggest that you do a couple of their code reviews early on and provide feedback. If they send a really insightful email to the team, reply all and agree with his/her points. Public recognition goes a long way in those first 90 days.

Be accessible

No question is ever too silly. A new employee absorbs so much in their first 30 days, to a point of supersaturation. Make a point to check-in around 90 days and revisit some of those early lessons like team structure, employee perks and benefits, various company protocols, etc. Allow them to ask whatever open questions they still have, and don’t raise an eyebrow if you think you’ve already covered that topic. What may be obvious to you is likely still foreign to them.

Pro Tip: Establish a working relationship

After 3 months, there should be a clear rhythm between a new hire and their team. If there are any points of tension, or confusion, identify and address immediately. We recommend using the following questions to best gauge whether or not there is a clearly established working relationship after 90 days:

  • Is it clear where your incoming queue of work is, and who is responsible for managing and/or prioritizing it?
  • Are you getting timely feedback/responses on work you are producing?
  • Are you getting any feedback?
  • Do you feel like you have all the tools you need to successfully execute?
  • Is it clear what role you serve on the team?
  • Do you understand the value proposition of the project you/your team work on?
  • Do you understand the business goals your work leads up to?
  • Do you feel that you have a clear picture of the roadmap ahead for you and your role?

It goes without saying that onboarding is a critical piece of any new hire’s roadmap at the company. Not only does it increase employee retention, it accelerates productivity and improves company culture. Leverage the 3 key points discussed in this blogpost to help you as you grow your team.

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