4 All Too Common Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Anyone who has ever hired a new employee in their team knows how difficult finding the right person can be. Not only does the newcomer need to meet the technical requirements of the role but they also need to fit in your company culture and get along with the rest of the team. Indeed, finding the right candidate takes time and costs money to your organization.

However, while we all know that hiring the right person is crucial, setting them up for success once they start working with you is just as important. If you ignore the proper onboarding of the new team member, you are running the risk that either the new hire will not perform at their best level or they might even leave you shortly after being hired, forcing you to start the costly hiring process all over again. Here are four common onboarding mistakes that organizations make and how to avoid them:

1. Not Setting Clear Expectations

When you hire a new employee, you obviously have certain expectations for that person and the value they will bring to your organization. However, if you don’t clearly communicate these to your new hire, they most certainly won’t be reaching the expected goals because they have no way of knowing what you are expecting. I have seen people being let go from a new job because of lack of results, when these expected results were never communicated to them in the first place. To avoid the mismatch of expectations, sit down with your new hire their first week and make a clear plan of what you are expecting from them during the first month, first three months, first six months, and first year. Opt for goals that can be objectively measured rather than vague, subjective expectations (e.g. “improve customer satisfaction by x %” vs. “make our clients happier”). Then set up regular one-on-ones to follow up on the progress and to identify and remove any roadblocks at the early stage.

2. Not Giving Feedback

Just like with the expectations, your new hire won’t know in which areas you would like them to improve on if you don’t provide them with feedback. Even if you had hired the right candidate, nobody is going to perfect. The perfect candidate does not exist so instead of spinning your wheels to find someone who meets the exact requirements, hire someone who you can train to be the best version of themselves. In order to reach this, the new hire will need continuous feedback from you. Regular one-on-ones are a great opportunity for this but give feedback also outside of them when necessary. And remember not only to focus on the negatives, positive feedback is important, too.

3. Not Providing Them with the Resources to Do Their Job

In order to succeed and reach the expected results, your employees are going to need certain resources and tools. This goes not only for your new team members but also for your existing employees. Whether these “resources” are other team members, software tools, or external specialists, make sure to ask your employees what they need in order to reach the expected goals. If you have done your recruiting right and hired smart people, they will be able to tell you if they lack resources (“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” -Steve Jobs). Always discuss the best solution together with the employee and involve them in the decision. If they tell you that they need a better way of storing and searching client information, consider the different options together instead of jumping the gun and investing in an expensive CRM that might or might not meet the actual need.

4. Not Making Them Feel Like Home

Finally, your employees need to feel comfortable in the workplace to stay with you. Such issues as a toxic work environment or bullying will obviously either cause the new employee not to perform at their best or directly make them quit to escape the poor work environment. However, even if your organization didn’t have this kind of serious workplace issues, the newcomer’s proper integration to your company might still fail if they don’t feel welcome or included from day one. Therefore, involve the newbie with the rest of the team as much as you can from the beginning. Organize a team lunch or a happy hour their first week to help everyone get to know each other better and start building social bonds. Also, invite the new team member to meetings from the very start and ask for their opinion on topics. This will not only make them feel included but will also provide you with a fresh perspective on things.

When you hire a new employee, it is your responsibility to set them up for success from day one. There is a reason why you decided to hire that person so it is unlikely that they will prove to be completely unsuitable for the job. In case of a failure, poor leaders will assume that the new hire is incapable of delivering results instead of asking themselves if they themselves have done everything in their power to help the newcomer succeed. Do you need help designing an onboarding process that sets your new hires up for success? Get in touch with The Happy Works for a free first consultation call!

Estée Janssens

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