How to Successfully Onboard a New Hire

May 27, 2011
4 Min Read

Many large organizations have processes for preparing new hire development plans that are tied to a performance management system, but if your operation is new or on the smaller side, you may not have formalized this.  In order to guide the new team member and ensure that she’s working at her full potential, you should take the time to develop an initial, 90-day training plan as well as a long-term plan.  Organizational psychologist Ben Dattner suggests the following steps for developing new team members:

Define the Current Role

Determine competencies for success based on job tasks and responsibilities.  Establish lines of authority and accountability with supervisors and subordinates.

Assess Development Needs

Determine success factors to be measured by benchmarking.  You may be able to document past performance and current skill level by recalling your conversations with the employee’s references, or his scores on assessment tests.

Coach and Train

Explore the new employee’s goals and prioritize her strengths and weaknesses.  Work with her to identify where she needs or wants to be in comparison to where she is currently and select 2-3 areas of focus for development.  Then, implement an action plan that will address her specific goals, sustain her motivation over time, and allow you to gather feedback and track progress at regular intervals.

Other Essentials

For many new hires, opportunity for advancement is also an important consideration.  When putting together your initial development strategy, you should talk to the new hire about growth opportunities and plan ways to revisit the issue throughout the year.

Devising a career ladder for your new hire can prove helpful in this regard.  A career ladder, says Harvard Business Essentials in "Hiring and Keeping the Best People," is a logical series of stages that move an employee progressively through more challenging and responsible positions.  You can use it by systematically analyzing a person’s current level of skills and experience and matching those against what’s needed at the next step of the ladder.

Gaps between what the person has and what he needs are addressed through a plan that involves a combination of formal training, special assignments, and regular mentoring by a respected superior.  Career ladders are most effective when they avoid plateaus.  If circumstances bar a promising employee’s vertical advancement for the foreseeable future, you should find some type of lateral assignment that will engage his interest and provide learning experiences.

The way you document all of this information is up to you and may depend at least in part on a system your organization already has in place.  The most important factor is to make sure you develop the plan collaboratively with the new hire and put it in writing so that expectations are clear to all.

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