The Power of the First Impression — Getting Onboarding Right
One of the most important ways you can determine if your organization’s culture is moving in the right direction is to review and adjust your onboarding process. Remember, it is the first major experience your new recruits will have with your organization, and that first impression can make a serious impact.
Whenever a new person joins your team, he or she will be exposed in that ‘first impression’ of onboarding to your organization’s culture, and see if & how the Big 6™ principles manifest themselves in your behaviors. They will probably spend time working alongside an experienced member of the team to observe their actions and learn how things are done. Onboarding your recruits in a careful, deliberate manner gives them a much higher chance of assimilating the key components of your culture up-front.
Unfortunately, we sometimes treat onboarding as a checklist procedure, right? It’s something we do with a clipboard (or the electronic equivalent). Usually, the HR team monitors that clipboard, and we consider ourselves successful when all the blocks get checked within a certain time frame for each new hire.
This ‘checklist’ procedure usually fails to create the right first impression when someone joins the team.
In an article in Process Street, writer Benjamin Brandall puts it this way: “The most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to retaining your best employees is the onboarding process. Why? Because first impressions count for everything.”
It stands to reason, then, that doing it poorly will cause a ripple effect, setting conditions for even those with the most potential to quickly start looking elsewhere. Or, to look at it from the other perspective, getting onboarding right means you’ll be keeping talent with your organization.
Here are four proven techniques to set yourself and your company up for success in keeping the good people you’ve worked so hard to find:
1. Use Leaders and Peers for Onboarding. The initial welcome is not a task you delegate. As the senior leader, make it a point to personally conduct the initial welcome. But then make it a team effort to bring in new members in a deliberate way, starting with positive, personal interaction.
2. Make Onboarding a Performance Objective. Describe what you expect of your leaders and team members in bringing in new people effectively.
3. Conduct a Debrief (or After Action Review) after each onboarding. Collect the team and review what worked well, what didn’t work per plan, and what to do to get better.
4. Ask the New Team Member for Input. Use a survey 30-60 days after a new member comes on board to see how she thinks she was brought in and prepared for her new responsibilities. Make sure to ask what she wishes was included in her initial onboarding! Include expectations, too. Then, act on the results.
This approach is far more effective than the traditional checklist procedure, or even worse, just showing them to a desk and computer and letting them figure out the rest. Leaving a new hire to their own devices means that they’re far less likely to understand your culture, let alone buy into it. A bad first impression can be almost impossible to undo.
This blog is based on material from my book “We’re All In.” You can get a copy of the first chapter for free here.
If you’d like a full copy of the entire book, you can get it here.
Enjoy the journey!
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