Employee onboarding: a successful first week

Employee onboarding: a successful first week

Meagan Palatino
March 30, 2016

Onboarding is an effort that lasts longer than a first day. In our previous post, we talked about onboarding with empathy and focusing a first day on the basics. Week one should carry this sentiment forward, while offering the employee a chance to contribute in a low-pressure yet meaningful way.

Set them up for success

We talked to a lot of managers and asked them where they focus during a new hire’s first week. Consistently we heard, “I make sure they have all the tools they need to do their job”. Tools mean different things for different roles. In technical roles, this can mean obtaining access to relevant software credentials or setting up their development and testing environments. In a business development role, the tool might be a CRM, or a corporate card for business travel.

A good goal is to set up a new team member with access to all of the tools they need within their first 5 days. Empower them to configure — and obtain the necessary training for — the tools on their own, but be sure to follow-up and verify that they feel well setup and equipped.

Setting them up for success immediately increases operational efficiency down the road.

Discuss their role and responsibilities

Very early on, it is important to review their primary role in the organization. This means reviewing the following critical topics:

what the primary responsibilities of this role are, and are notwho the key people they will work with are, and whyhow their work fits into, or overlaps with, other teams in the organizationwhat are the known dependencies they may encounter, both horizontally and verticallyhow success in this role is defined, evaluated and furthermore, achieved

Providing the employee with a landscape view of the organization, and their role within it, is essential.

Give them a chance to add value

For many new hires, they are eager to contribute and demonstrate their value add. Though the first week may seem like an unlikely opportunity, challenge yourself to find a small, but meaningful opportunity where the employee can chip in.

This doesn’t have to mean a deliverable in the traditional sense, and certainly should not be a critical one. For example, a list of 5 things they liked / disliked about the product you sell provides fresh insight from a new internal stakeholder. Or, for engineers, a bug fix or small feature that leads to a code commit during their first week.

Allowing a new employee to add value early on, and recognizing them for it is invigorating.

Set clear goals and expectations

By the end of their first 5 working days, a new employee should feel ready to get started. Getting to this point requires a bit of planning and setting of clear expectations.

The new employee’s manager should establish a regular check-in with their direct report. Whether this is a weekly 1:1, or a more formal monthly check-in, layout the plan early on so they know what to expect. These periodic check-ins are predictable reserved slots for the employee to meet with their boss. Managers should use these meetings to take a temperature reading of their new hire.

Set up a dive-right-in plan. This includes adding any necessary recurring meetings to their calendars, scheduling introductory meetings with all the relevant parties, and discussing clear deliverables for their first 30 days.

Goal setting works well if expectations are discussed and clearly defined by both the manager and the employee together.

Pro Tip

Goal setting should be realistic and clear. We recommend starting with a set of small goals for the employee to work towards during their first 30 days.

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