Onboarding – how to maximize your new employee’s potential

onboarding new employeeWelcoming a new employee into the Team could be a serious challenge, as there is always a chance that something would go wrong and precious potential would go wasted on unnecessary complications. Many pitfalls await the new guy as he tries to navigate the labyrinth of the new workplace: taking too long to start delivering, making a lot of mistakes and asking wrong people for help, being unable to connect socially because of trying too hard or not trying hard enough, and many others.

The bottom-line is – if you want to get the maximum out of your new employee’s potential, you should try and help him or her to evade those pitfalls. You can do it by incorporating a few small but important components into your orientation routine. I call those components THE THREE P’s.

First P is PART.

Here you concentrate on explaining the newcomer’s part in the functional structure of the organization. There are several important questions that the employee should feel have been answered after this stage of orientation is finished:

  • What is his niche inside the Team?
  • What is the project he’s going to be working on?
  • What are his duties and responsibilities?
  • How does his work integrate with the work that others do?
  • What are the standards of quality?
  • How long does he have to learn everything that’s needed?
  • What are the expectations of him in regard to timelines and delivered results?
  • How are his personal traits that he demonstrated during the interview connected to all aforementioned questions?

In addition to providing the new employee with the listed information, this stage has the greatest chances to decrease his anxiety triggered by finding himself in a completely new situation. By explaining how his personal traits are related to the job to be done and by providing realistic expectations you’re giving him a reason to be believe in his capability to get the job done. And that’s already something.

Another P is PEOPLE.

This where you try to give your new employee the basic impression of who is going to be working with, with an emphasis on yourself as Manager, other Team members and relevant stakeholders from other departments. The questions to be answered here are:

  • What is the hierarchical structure of the Team?
  • What is the position of the Team among other departments?
  • What are the projects run by the Team and who are the people running them?
  • Who are the people who’ll be the new employee’s coworkers on the project and what is the best way to work with them?
  • Who are the clients and relevant stakeholders from other departments and what is the best way to work with them?
  • Are there any organizational politics involved?
  • What kind of Manager are you and how do you see your relations with your employees?
  • Who is going to be the newcomers’ mentor inside the Team and what kind of person is he or she?
  • What are the social conventions and traditions of the department?

As organizations consist of people more than of anything else – this is actually the most important stage. It takes years to build social relations inside the Team and on the outside, but it takes just one unnecessary misunderstanding to dismantle everything. There is no natural tendency of different people to get along, so it’s worthy to invest some time and energy to help them get along. It will always pay up in the end.

The final P is PROCESSES

After you explained WHAT to do and with WHOM, it’s time to explain HOW. This “how” manifests itself through many processes that could be involved in the functioning of the organization. In addition to basic technical details of the job there are several important points that should not be missed, such as:

  • How are your technical systems different from what the employee has worked with beforehand?
  • What are their advantages and limitations?
  • How does the Technical Support work in your organization and are there any tips to speed things up?
  • How does the reporting chain work? To whom should the new employee be reporting about his progress and problems?
  • How are the solutions devised? Is there a dedicated person or a group-based process?
  • What are the other functional activities of the team?
  • How are the meetings arranged? Do they require personal input from the employee and how often?

Of course, there are many other possible processes to mention, but they are usually less universal and are more dependent on the specific field of activity for your organization. However, explaining the issues raised here would be relevant for almost any field.

This is my THREE P’s system for Onboarding. Feel free to use at your convenience 🙂

6 thoughts on “Onboarding – how to maximize your new employee’s potential

  1. Without a doubt one of the best essential approaches for both the new employee and the employer with integrating the new team player, whether the individual is new to the organization/company or transferred over from another department. And I know you mentioned this previously, but after the “initial meet and greet” of the team, “mentorship” is the next requirement and builting upon success, after success, followed by feedback from both parties with open dialogue.

  2. Thank you Sean! and you are so right about mentorship: that is a very beneficial relationship for all parties – mentor, mentee AND company.

  3. Anya:
    I am missing a couple of things.
    — Organizational vision (What kind of world do we want to build?).
    — Needs and expectations of the end customer and other relevant stakeholders.

    I would probably put them under “Part”, as these topics give meaning to “the functional structure of the organization”.

    Fungus

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