LME018 – Onboarding new employees

Today we talk about 3 major mistakes you should avoid when onboarding new employees.

Do you spend a lot of time and money searching for new staff members? Yes? But do you also pay enough attention to train the new hires properly?

I will explain to you the three most critical mistakes during the onboarding process that you really have to avoid.

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Why you should care about onboarding

Recruiting costs can easily reach up to 40% of the annual salary for the job position to be filled. If the new employee is not properly trained after hiring, the employer is really wasting hard cash.

As a leadership and manager coach I noticed this fatal mistake with quite a few of my clients. A lot of effort, time and resources are put into finding suitable candidates, but then the new hires are not being inducted and trained well.

Recklessly neglecting the onboarding process turns out to be a costly mistake, for example when the new employee is already leaving during the probation period, or it becomes clear – far too late – that the person doesn’t really fit in the organisation or the team after all.

Onboarding new employees: 3 major mistakes!

There are three really bad mistakes during Onboarding that I come across time and again and that simply should not happen at all.

1. Onboarding mistake: Poor preparation

When a new staff member is hired, it should be very clear at an early stage what tasks he or she will perform and what the goals will be.

This information has to be stated in writing before the recruitment process begins. And yet, that’s often not the case.

Everything for his or her workspace and tasks should be ready and prepared at the first working day of the new employee. Otherwise, it will be stressful for everybody involved.

„Hello. Remember me? I am the new guy.“

„Ah yes, welcome on board Mr. … ehm, what’s your name again?“

„Newman, Pete Newman“

„Right. Ehm, Judy, could you please take care of Mr. Newman? Show him around and just find a space for him to work, and explain how everything works here – you know where he gets his laptop and how he gets to the cafeteria and everything…“

Argg. That’s not the way.

Have a clear onboarding process

You need a clear onboarding process.

Otherwise, the new team member will feel completely out of place. He or she will feel like a foreign body that doesn’t belong. That’s demotivating. Check out here how employee motivation really works.

When there’s no clarification about the induction process, even the existing staff members will be overwhelmed, because nothing is prepared and no time and resources have been allocated for the induction and support of the new employee.

2. Onboarding mistake: Responsibilities are not clear!

Every employee has a manager. The manager is responsible for the onboarding process!

Of course, the HR Department can support and help with the onboarding process, but basically onboarding has to be performed by the respective leading manager.

The responsibility lies with the manager!

He has to overlook the Onboarding steps and – most of all – has to take the time for the new employee.

Like almost everything with leadership: this task is very important. As a manager you have to do it.

Even important customer meetings or other management tasks have to come in second.

“Yeah, but our important client had requested this meeting on short notice. So, I simply didn’t have the time for the new staff member…”

“Yeah, but the board requested a very urgent consultation.”

No: There is no

„Yeah, but…“

What has priority? What is really important for you as a manager? Give the new employee now the time and appreciation that he deserves – and that he also very much needs in the beginning to become part of your team.

Support him or her to build up confidence quickly. This includes providing the opportunity to quickly socialize and integrate into the team and to become a valued and respected team member. Your new employee needs to learn about the corporate culture and thats true een if you have a small company.

He needs to know what is expected of him, and he needs to develop the feeling that he makes an important contribution to the organisation. Communicating this, that’s your job as his or her new manager.

3. Onboarding mistake: Insufficient Feedback

Most organisations imply a probation period. Often it lasts for 6 months. But mostly they don’t make good use of this probation time. Despite the first months are crucial.

Make it clear to your new team member, what you expect from him or her and what goals should be achieved. Very important in the beginning: give sufficient regular feedback during onboarding new employees.

Where does he or she stand?

How can an employee develop and become better, if he doesn’t know how good he is and whether or not he’s meeting the expectations?

It shouldn’t happen, but it might happen, that an employee doesn’t perform as expected. In that case, you have to let him or her go, despite all efforts made on both sides.

The probation time

This is why there’s a probation period. But it also means, that you have to make the most of the probation and take the time to talk to your new employee regularly. Help him to understand the goals and expectations and to live up to them.

Don’t tell him or her what you expect only at the end of the 6-month probation. That’s just not fair.

Give regular feedback!

Arrange for a feedback-meeting every other week or once a month.

Give feedback, tell your new team member how well he or she performs and offer support and additional training if necessary.

These meetings can also be used to agree upon short-term goals. Goals that the employee should reach in the following weeks to become a full member of the workforce after the probation.

Unfortunately, many managers don’t do that. And what happens, is: the manager didn’t have time for the new employee and now – close to the end of the probation period – a decision has to be made, whether to keep him in the company or not.

„Shall we keep the new guy or not? Well, I haven’t had much time in the last months… It would be a bit unfair to let him go now, just because I didn’t have enought time for him …“

That’s correct. But what was actually unfair is that you didn’t pay attention to and you didn’t take care of your new employee.

Use the probation time correctly!

What happens often is: You employ a lousy candidate after the probation time because you did not have a proper onboarding process.

At least in some countries liek Germany: You can’t get rid off him that easily after the probation period is over – just because of legal rules.

Therefore always consider: set up regular meetings with your new employee already from the first day to provide feedback – preferably every other week.

If you do that, you will know latest after 6 months whether working together makes sense or not. There will be no surprises or disappointments. Even if you decide not to keep the new employee or even let him go already during the probation period, at least you gave him a fair chance by providing feedback and support.

Checklist Onboarding

I prepared a check list that guides you through the entire Onboarding process.

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my 4 page onboarding checklist

checklist onboarding new employees

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The inspiring quote

“I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them a potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.”

Sarah Wetzel