If you have read the prior blogs on Hiring Help in 4 Steps, you know that hiring well relies on creating a solid plan first, and then making it as easy as possible to launch and follow that plan consistently. The first step, Recruit Constantly, focused on expanding recruiting efforts to reach as many good candidates as possible; and the second, Hire Methodically, challenges employers to design and implement a way to move potential candidates through the hiring decision process as quickly and effectively as possible while keeping the candidates informed of their status. The first step focuses on everything an employer does to get applications. The second phase covers the management of candidates from application until a job offer has been accepted. If you missed either of the first two posts, stop. Click here to read Step 1 or here to read Step 2.
If you have read Steps 1 and 2, press on.
Step 3: Onboard Intentionally
The third step begins at the moment a candidate has accepted your job offer and continues until the candidate is successfully engaged in the company and experiencing success in the new position. Your goal is help your new employee become a contributing, happy part of the team as quickly as possible.
This is the first battle in the culture war, and it is the hill on which many workplace cultures die. Don’t misunderstand this. You cannot have a negative or hostile culture in an organization and turn it around by creating a great onboarding process. You can, however, destroy a positive culture by having a weak onboarding process. This often becomes more problematic as a business grows. When a business is just getting launched and in the early stages of growth, the founder/owner does the hiring and directly engages with all employees. This direct access to the decision-maker and the direct interaction with the owner may be enough to build a sense of belonging for a new employee. Even a fairly chaotic environment can still be positive. If the founder and/or the leadership team is personable, committed to success, and caring toward employees, the culture is fed by the enthusiasm and friendships created by being part of a small and highly dedicated team. However, as the company scales, the leadership team’s attention tends to become divided and new employees experience less and less time with the leaders, the decision-makers. The feeling of family that is almost inherent in a startup may, at this stage of growth, fade rapidly. It may even begin to feel to new employees like the ‘original’ employees and founders are an exclusive clique making new employees feel like outsiders at worst and the “new kids in school” at best.
Just making sure someone is providing orientation and training won’t solve the problem. In the the early stages, the owner/founder usually introduces new employees and provides most of the training–giving the attention of the decision-maker to the new employee and allowing the new employee to be trained by someone with a vested interest in the success of the company. When the orientation and training move to the responsibility of another person, a business must make a concerted effort to be sure that the activities are not dependent on the personality (and sometimes mood) of the person introducing the new person to the team and the job. This can be a problem for some owner’s during the early stages because entrepreneurs, especially visionaries, tend not to enjoy repetitive tasks. So, even when the owner is doing the introductions and training, you need to take time to intentionally plan the best way to introduce, orient and train employees and to ensure that the process is followed consistently. As the business grows, be sure that the process includes meaningful access to decision-makers. If you want employees to feel loyal to the team, to be engaged, you have to be committed to helping them get to know the business and to feel valued. One of the saddest comments we hear in exit interviews, and we’ve heard it more than once, is that “the first time I felt appreciated was at my going away party.” A few of our clients have followed our recommendation to institute a “welcome party” during orientation. The impact has been significant. If you chose to use the PXT Select assessment tool in your hiring process, the PXT Select coaching report is a great tool to make your onboarding process more effective for each new employee.
Steps 1, 2 and 3 focus on consistently following an intentional plan to recruit, hire and onboard effectively. If you are having trouble developing your process, we’ve got a squad for that!