Most of the writing you’ll find online about onboarding tends to focus on the earliest stages of the process, including pre-boarding and the first day of work. If you’d like focused information on that part of the process, check out the orientation checklist page and the job orientation page on this site. And if you’ve read any of the articles on the blog page of this site, you’ll know that onboarding should be thought of as a year-long process. This begs the question: What does onboarding look like during the 364 days after a new hire’s first day? This new employee orientation template focuses on that piece of the onboarding puzzle.
- On-the-Job Training: Go for a Manageable Flow
The first important item in this new employee orientation template is job training. When it’s time to begin job-specific training for a new hire, you have to strike a tricky balance. You want to ramp up the new hire as quickly as possible, but you also need to avoid overwhelming them with too much too fast. The one thing you must not do (and which a surprising number of companies do all the time) is just turn them loose to sink or swim on their own, hoping they’ll figure it out. If you’ve never really thought through how to go about creating the right training for new hires, here’s a simple process you can use:
- What: For all major responsibilities of the new hire, break each one down into the specific, concrete tasks and procedures they need to know to get the job done. Aim for a high degree of accuracy. It’s useful to have someone else who is not in a similar position read it over to make sure it’s clear. This is the list of training topics for your new hire.
- Who: If some of the new hire’s training is going to be handled in-person, make sure you select the best person for the job. Not everyone is good at showing others how to do something. Making the wrong choice here can leave the new hire frustrated and resentful.
- When: Everyone’s most precious resource in the workplace is time. You have to make sure the new hire has enough time freed up in their schedule to receive the training they need. If their schedule gets too packed with meetings and other things early on, you run the risk of them never receiving the proper training they need to do their job.
- How: Some of the training can be handled informally and in-person as mentioned above, but there are many training options you might have available at your company, including online eLearning. Whatever form your new hire training takes, be sure there is good evaluation built into it. You need to check for understanding! If you use eLearning, you will likely have learning assessments built into the course or module. For in-person training, you can teach them and then have them apply what they’ve learned in a real (but low-stakes) assignment and see how they do.
If your company has training materials in a variety of formats and delivery methods, it’s worth finding out from the new hire how they prefer to learn – in-person? Watching training videos at their own pace? Reading about it? Watching someone perform the work? Listening to podcasts? Hands-on practice? The point is that if you can tailor some or all of the job-specific training a new hire needs to their preferred learning style, they’ll get up-to-speed much faster.
- Setting Clear Performance Expectations and Goals
The second piece in this new employee orientation template is all about goals. Few things will have a greater impact on your new hire’s success than setting clear performance goals. Without them, you run the risk of simply not getting what you need from the new employee, and they won’t know they’re not delivering without clearly defined performance goals.
The first set of performance goals to think about are those that capture the “essence of the job.” What are the core things they need to be doing on a daily basis and how will you know they are accomplishing that work?
Another set of performance goals might be related to specific projects. These are time-limited activities with a beginning and end that need to happen alongside their core job duties.
A third set of performance goals might be related to professional development. What sorts of learning and training beyond the job-specific basics would advance the new hire’s professional growth?
In all cases, these various performance goals need to be realistic and achievable. You want your new hire to achieve several early successes in meeting performance goals to boost their confidence and engagement. Later on, you can start making the goals more challenging, but still realistic. Be supportive and show you have confidence in their ability to meet the goals.
- Regular Check-Ins with New Hires Throughout Their First Year
The third item in this new employee orientation template is about regular check-ins. There are two types of check-ins that should occur throughout the whole first year of employment for a new hire. One is performance check-ins with their manager or supervisor and the other is specifically with HR around the settling in process.
New employees need regular check-ins and feedback about their performance with their manager. Your company may already have a regular schedule for this, such as quarterly or monthly. But for a new hire, it needs to be more frequent throughout their first year, such as weekly for the first three months, every two weeks for their second three months and then perhaps monthly after that for the second half of their first year. Constructive criticism is fine, but be sure to balance criticism and praise. You want to be positive and encouraging. Don’t be the manager who demands excellence and then never hands out any appreciation or recognition for work done well. Constructive criticism is your opportunity to course-correct any bad habits or weaknesses, which is why frequent check-ins early on are so important. And remember to benchmark and monitor performance against the goals that were set.
The HR check-in is about seeing how they’re doing in terms of settling into their position and the company. The first HR check-in should happen at the end of the new hire’s first full week because that’s when they’re bound to have the most HR-related questions around things like benefits and so forth. The second check-in should be at the end of the first month, and then at the 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month marks. These check-ins are about making sure the new hire is settling in, has what they need, and understands company policies and procedures.
- Matching Up with a Mentor
The fourth part of this new employee orientation template is mentoring. We’ve suggested elsewhere that each new hire have an onboarding “buddy” to help them learn the essentials when they first arrive – someone, they can go to with questions and who has a positive take on the company and its culture. An onboarding “buddy” relationship can last as long as it is needed, but will most likely wane after a few weeks. What becomes much more important during a new hire’s first month is to match them up with a mentor. And if your company doesn’t have a mentoring program, now is the time to set one up!
What does a mentor do? The idea is to pair up a more senior employee with the new employee to provide a place to discuss various workplace issues, help shape their career path in the company, and serve as an internal advocate. The mentor should not be the employee’s direct manager or supervisor who conducts the mentee’s performance evaluation reviews. Frequency of meetings with a mentor might be once or twice per month. For more information on mentoring programs, check out the following articles on our related sites:
- Masterful Mentoring at Sun Microsystems
- Selection and Matching in Mentoring Programs
- Best and Worst Mentoring Practices
- Mentoring Skills through eLearning
- Solicit New Hire Feedback Throughout Onboarding
The final item on this new employee orientation template is remembering to solicit feedback from the new hire at regular intervals. Everyone feels more valued when they know their input is being considered, which means they will also be more engaged in their work. But just as important is the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the effectiveness of your onboarding efforts to see where you can make improvements. You can match up this new hire feedback with the HR check-ins. The feedback can be solicited in-person or through a quick, simple survey. The important thing is to get their feedback early and often!
If you follow the five elements laid out in this new employee orientation template, your company will experience the many benefits of top-notch new hire training!