How to Set a New Hire Up for Success

We’ve all been new employees ourselves at one point. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably had the experience of showing up on your first day at a new job, excited to start, only to discover that your new office isn’t organized and prepared for you. Maybe you were even told to read company brochures for a few hours while your new boss figured out what to do with you.

Not only is this a waste of a new employee’s time, but it will make the staffer feel unwelcome and send a damaging message about your culture. Instead, the message you want to send from day one is that you’re organized, efficient, and running a tight ship.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a new staff member the right way.

1. Create a Training Plan

Before the employee starts, create a training outline laying out what will be covered, in what order, during the first week. In addition to job-specific information for each component of the job, your training outline might include:

• An overview of the department and its team members, including any recent relevant history

• Goals for the first month and first quarter

• Tips for working with other departments

• How to handle particular personalities outside the office and things to be sensitive to

• Common problems they’ll encounter and how to handle them

• What kind of communication you expect and how often

• Approval process for work

• How to locate important files and other sources of information

• Expenditure authority and approval

• Confidentiality policies

Plan to spread this out over several days, since most people can only retain so much their first day on a job, when everything is new.

And on the staff member’s first day, give her a copy of this training outline so that she knows what to expect.

2. Ensure Logistics Are Ready In Advance

Make sure the staff member’s computer, phone, and email accounts are set up and working before her first day. Have a list of passwords waiting for her so she can immediately log in, set up her voicemail, and so forth, and ensure that her workspace is clean and stocked with supplies.

3. Check In Regularly

Check in regularly, not only to provide more detailed feedback than you’d give someone who has worked with you longer, but also to see how she’s adjusting.

You might even conduct an “entry interview” after a month or two, to catch issues early and get the fresh perspective of someone who isn’t already steeped in “the way we do it.” Ask questions like:

• Did your job turn out to be as you expected it would be when you were being hired?

• What improvements could be made to the way you were oriented and trained for your role?

• What areas would you like additional training or help with?

• Do you have a good understanding of what all our departments do and who to go to for what?

• Are you getting enough feedback? Are you clear on what’s expected of you and how you’re doing against those expectations?

• How’s your workload?

• Are there any obstacles that make doing your job more difficult?

• Is there anything that would improve your quality of life at work?

Prepare this way, and you’ll maximize your chances of your new hire’s success.

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Posted in Team & Project Management


  • The Other Dawn

    I’ve been with the same company for 15 years so I haven’t had to be on the receiving end of this, thankfully. However, I’ve unfortunately been in the position of not being ready for an employee a few times. Not as the person’s manager, but as the IT person having to clean up the former employee’s computer, get it ready for the new person, set up the network account, permissions, email, etc. Each time it was because no one told me we had a new hire until either the day before the person was to arrive, or the morning the person arrived. Yeah, I can get all that done in a half hour. Sure. It was awful, because I knew what the new employee was likely thinking about our company; however, if the employee’s manager doesn’t tell me they hired someone, what can I do?

    • Any way to emphasize with the managers the importance of getting you advance notice? I know that’s easier said than done, sometimes…

  • GREAT ADVICE! I can put it to use immediately as we will be bringing in new people this week. 

  • Lamb

    Managers please take this advice!  I am now in my 6th day of work and I have had 3 minutes of time with my manager, was just able to get into email (now if I could only print . . .), and have been thrown into the mix with no real direction.  What I thought was going to be a great job has me extremely frustrated.  I think it will get better but I’ve lost a lot of motivation and excitement in the process. 

    • One thing to keep in mind: As frustrating as this is, it’s also pretty common!  So for your own quality of life, just try to get through these first few weeks and hopefully it’ll get better!

    • Lamb

      New piece of advice based on experience.  If you only do one thing – check, and then double check, that your new employee has all their paperwork in line so they can actually get their first paycheck when you told them they were supposed to get it.  Unfortunately, accounting deadlines tend to be rather firm on this matter.  While your employee may act like it is no big deal (no one wants to admit how financially strapped they are) they’ve most likely experienced some sort of gap in employment and are in pretty desperate need of that paycheck you promised. 
      On the bright side things are getting less frustrating with the computer issues and direction I am getting every day. 

  • Great advice. And if the training plan includes names of other people the new hire can talk to for advice, viewpoints, etc then as a manager you can remove some frustration for both of you when you have to attend to your usual duties/emergencies.
    Maybe you could do a complementary article, if you haven’t written it already, for the person starting the new job about having patience and understanding and not passively sitting there after you’ve read the company brochures the first time.

    My recent onboarding was a bit fuzzy, but I expected that based on my job interview. There was open communication about how this would be a new role and while they had specific things that needed to be done immediately, there would be a lot of flexibility required. We worked it out great between my own initiative, others’ help, and my manager’s determined efforts to be available between the usual emergencies.

  • The Other Dawn

    I’ve done some of these things as a manager.  I always make it a point to make introductions, show people where the bathroom and kitchen are, and check in after about a month on the job; however, I saw a couple things here that I think would definitely be a good idea, especially telling the person about the different personalities in the office.

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