Think back to when you last started in a new organisation and how you felt. Being a new team member is a big deal at any time. Add into the mix a global pandemic where we are all working remotely and coping with a wide range of adjustments and you have another layer of challenge. So how do you make sure that your new joiner gets a slick experience, starts delighted and quickly gets up to speed and adds value?
Your role as their line manager is key:
- Take personal ownership. This isn’t something you should outsource to HR or admin and hope it sorts itself out. It is really important and it’s your responsibility. Dedicate time to it and be thoughtful.
- Keep in regular and frequent contact with your new hire throughout their offer management and notice period so they know what is happening and where they stand. If anything, over communicate.
- Write a detailed induction plan that you share in advance which includes everyone they need to meet, company information like videos, organisation charts and values. Trello is a great tool for planning this. Be creative and open minded.
- Start early and expect it may take longer than it used to. Don’t wait until the day before their start date to get their logins sorted.
- Announce their appointment to relevant people including when they will be starting and what they will be doing.
- Include them on internal communications as soon as appropriate, ideally before they start. Add them to recurring calendar invites, email distribution lists and shared drives so they know what is going on.
- Schedule in regular ‘virtual coffee meetings’ for the two of you. Ask them what they need. Listen to them. Support them and show flexibility according to their situation. The way you treat your employees now is everything.
- Set clear objectives and schedule reviews at 30/60/90 days and beyond. Stick to the planned slots and don’t let them slip. The induction plan will evolve into their development plan.
In conjunction with your colleagues in HR / IT:
- Review your previous onboarding process and look for ways to pivot it to an online process. If you were still using hard copy forms and employee handbooks, move them to electronic. It’s a great time to update these things.
- Utilise employee onboarding software. Many of my clients have Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) with the capability to do this but haven’t been using them to their full potential.
- Ensure important legal documents like eligibility to work or essential qualifications are still verified.
- Check a plan is in place for physically getting IT kit to their home. Factor in the time taken so it can be up and running ahead of their start date.
- Give them a personal contact in IT who is expecting to hear from them and can support them remotely with everything they need. Imagine how you would feel having to hold for the generic IT helpline for an hour while trying to get set up.
- Agree with your colleagues who is responsible for what so everyone involved knows and understands.
- Seek feedback from recent new joiners and put in place improvements ongoing.
Include others to support them:
- Assign them a buddy. This should be a peer they can talk to informally for advice. Select someone warm and welcoming and be clear on what their brief is.
- Link them up with other new joiners, wherever in the world they are. Even more than normal they will benefit from connecting with others in the same boat. You could have a Slack channel for new joiners or similar.
- Arrange a mentor for them. This should be someone experienced and established, probably more senior than them. Someone who lives the culture and values.
- Offer transition coaching particularly for leadership hires. If you don’t have an internal resource, consider investing in an external executive coach.
- Make sure business leaders are visible to new joiners. Depending on the scale of your organisation and the level of the individual the method may vary. It is important new employees are bought in to the strategy and purpose.
- If your organisation or its leaders are active on social media make sure they know about any company hashtags they can follow and engage with.
And some things to avoid:
- Don’t panic! Although it may be a new way of working, the principles remain the same, they just need to be done in a different way. Use best practice from before to inform what you need to do now.
- Don’t drop the elements that happened before to show the culture such as team drinks or lunch with the key stakeholder. Think of ways you can take it online like team drinks over Zoom or a team quiz.
- Don’t leave out elements of the usual induction process ‘for now’ in the hope you can pick them up later when the world ‘gets back to normal’. It will likely get forgotten, and it’s time to accept this may be the new normal.
- Don’t stop training during these ‘unusual’ times. If you have a learning management system in place already, great. If not, lunch and learns are a great way to involve new joiners (and existing employees) in training even when remote.
For support with transition coaching for new hires or creating an onboarding plan, please get in touch.