Employee onboarding — focus day 30 on reflection

Employee onboarding — focus day 30 on reflection

Meagan Palatino
April 7, 2016

For a new employee, day 30 signifies a milestone — the completion of an entire month in their new role. By now, the employee’s manager should have successfully assumed the remaining onboarding responsibilities, while keeping HR informed. If the company is growing fast, there have likely been other newbies hired during this period, shifting the focus off of the more seasoned employee. This should not lead to a shift in energy away from the employee during their first 30 days.

Hold a day 30 retrospective

We recommend not referring to a day 30 check-in as a “review”. The word review implies rating, and analysis of, a very short period of high adaptation. In our experience, there is little to review in terms of performance in these first 30 days. And that’s okay. Instead, frame the 30-day check-in as a more casual, candid discussion and retrospective on how the first month went.

Talk frankly with the employee, and offer them the opportunity to do the same. Dive into whether their expectations were met for their new role. If yes, that’s great news! If no, discuss what differed from their original understanding, and steps to close this gap. Really uncover any remaining uncertainties the employee may have, and as a take-away analyze where the root cause may have been: is it the team? the manager? the role? the onboarding process? the culture fit?

As their manager, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to listen. Try to let the employee do more of the talking. Reserve a whole hour for this discussion.

Revisit predefined goals

Set up a separate, shorter discussion to revisit any goals you crafted with your employee during their first month. In our last post, we recommended setting these goals and expectations during week one. If you followed along with our template, we suggested periodic check-ins during these 30 days to discuss their progress towards the goal(s), adjusting as needed along the way. Given that, by the time day 30 arrives, there should be no surprises.

By framing this discussion as a “revisiting of goals”, the employee will understand there is a clear deadline to work towards, but in the form of a deliverable — not a performance review. Discuss if the original goals were realistic or not. Evaluate whether or not they have been able to add value during this time. Ask them to answer this question, and then as their manager, provide them with a bit of feedback based on your own observations. If appropriate, talk to some of their teammates ahead of time to gather feedback and first impressions on how it is going with the new team member.

By treating this as a separate, distinct meeting from the 30-day retrospective, you present the employee with two clear opportunities: one to give feedback and one to get feedback.

As a manager, this is a huge opportunity for self-reflection as you review your original expectations for the new hire; you begin to create your own calibration curve of what reasonable 30-day achievements are.

Plan for the next 30 days

Onboarding is not over yet! Take the learnings from their first 30 days to better refine their next 30. As you plan for 60 days, the employee should be reaching a point of regular contribution. Set another round of goals, and challenge the employee to suggest a couple of stretch goals for 60 days.

Take note of any miscommunications, or gaps uncovered during their first 30 days, and write down clear action steps for rectifying immediately. Resolve conflict immediately, should there be any points of tension between the employee and their team, you, or another member at the company after their first 30 days.

Pro Tip

Leverage the well known and practiced Agile framework for “retrospectives” during your 30-day check-in: review of the timeline, what went well, what could have gone better, and define the necessary action steps to ensure the journey to Day 60 is smooth sailing!

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