New hires perform best when they feel integrated into a company and are relaxed, stimulated and having fun. Onboarding success occurs when new arrivals are in a supportive but structured background. All research indicates that employees who are successfully onboarded are likely to be more highly engaged and stay with an organization for longer periods. Effective onboarding saves companies as much as 3 x the annual employee salary as well as hiring costs.
The first 90 days are critical to your success in a new role. Here are some exercise to complete to help you or your employees succeed.
1. Attentive listening
The number one tip from any HR professional or coach for the first 90 days is to listen and observe and ask the right questions.
2. Create solid relationships
Building new relationships is also key to success in a new organization. While there are various relationships that are important to build, the priority focus should be on:
These relationships are critical to anchoring the foundations for success especially for anyone joining a new organisation in a leadership role. It is particularly important to establish the preferred communication style of the people around you in today’s working environment of complex and multiple communication channels. Do they like F2F, text, intranet, IM, phone, weekly report?
3.Learn about the existing culture
You might have been hired as a disruptor but before you can make any changes you have to understand the existing culture. Showing respect for existing systems will be important to getting everyone on side. Talk to people to see what they think works and what they would tweak and what they would throw away all together. Lose the words “in my old company….” from your vocabulary. Use the traffic light exercise to structure your questions.
4. Be open and approachable
It’s important to be open and accessible from the outset. In the early days introductions communicate how excited you are to be joining the company and suggest meeting people for coffee. If you inherit a team you will want to meet them individually as well as together as a group. Prepare your introduction in advance so you keep it short and to the point.
5. Manage expectations
From the beginning it’s important to set and receive clear ideas, both for your team and your boss. See the previous questions so you know what questions to ask.
- What is your day-to-day role?
- What are your objectives short, medium and long-term.
- How will they measure success? Who will do that and when?
This is especially important if it is linked to your compensation.
7. Be relaxed and yourself
Starting a new job is always stressful and you can be nervous. It’s always best to be your best confident self. If you don’t feel that and can’t fake it ‘til you make it (within reason) invest in a coach. There is a difference between feeling the fear and doing it anyway and coming over as false and inauthentic. Creating an atmosphere of trust is important and being true to yourself will play a key role.
8. Create alliances
Creating strategic alliances is key to any onboarding process. Finding your way around the sub text of any new organisational culture is important. Very often there are back door ways of doing things that as a newbie you won’t know. So whether it’s how to get a jump on office supplies, IT issues solved quickly, or key decisions made, then forming alliances with others will be useful. This can be from knowing who the janitor is to accepting help and support from reports and colleagues.
Additionally cultivate a mentor either officially or unofficially, someone who can show you the ropes. Maybe invest in a coach which can be privately supported or by your company. This will depend on your seniority. Some new hires have strong support networks in their sector or general friendship groups or networks. Others rely on family members.
8. Go for small early wins
In the movies new hires come up with dramatic solutions early on. My experience suggests that this rarely happens in the real world. When you are in onboarding mode the listening element is vital. If you can address some minor but highly visible niggles to give you some early wins, that would be a good place to start. At this stage building trust is more important than dramatic show boating which may carry risk.
9. Build or strengthen your team
Building your team or strengthening it will be important. Here are some questions you can ask your reports to cement those relationships.
- What does success look like to them?
- What do they expect from a manager?
- What do they expect from team members?
- What do they want their colleagues to think about them? Name 3 qualities or characteristics.
- What are their key 5 strengths with a story to illustrate and an object that show cases each one?
- Who is their Chief Doubting Officer – the little voice in your head that holds them back? Who does he or she look like? When is he or she present?
- What do they need to work on for their personal development?
- What value do people get from working with them?
- What are the top 5 experiences they feel when working with them?
- What makes them special?
- How do they prefer to handle conflict?
10. Create a mission statement
Many new hires they need to arrive at a company with a vision already in mind or compelled to make a big announcement quickly following their arrival. Generally new hires who indicate their first role will be to listen make the greatest progress. You can’t always promise to implement what the people around you want, but you can guarantee to give thoughtful consideration to their input. At that point you can make a collaborative mission statement in line with departmental objectives against which you will all be measured.
To produce a mission statement that truly motivates and excites all stakeholders take time to get full buy-in.