HR Matters By Kevin M. Dee
Joining a new company is akin to get- ting married and joining a new fam- ily. And every family has a unique
culture. It doesn’t matter if your companies’ culture is “The Addams Family,” “The Waltons,” or “One Flew Over
the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Everyone needs to
be shown the ropes lest they get hung
by them. The way each new person joins
your organization will ultimately determine his or her overall productivity and
contribution to your mission.
Human resources has a very large role
in making sure that every new employee
is qualified for work and gets the required
trainings and paperwork handled. But if
you stop at that then you will have missed
the one chance to create a great employee
from the start. Getting onboarding right
is critical to engage and enroll your new
employee. If they are just out of school
they will want to engage with enthusiasm that, rightly directed and focused,
will add value to your organization.
Onboarding is not a one day, one week,
or even one month process. To do it right
and get the right results it must fit the position being filled and it needs to be a dynamic process that changes as the company does. Some best practices include:
Enlist a subgroup of employees at the
same level as the new hire to create an accounting of the things each new employee
needs to know when joining the group.
Everything goes on this list. Include how
to work the copier and where the rest-rooms are, who to talk to on different
subjects, and how communication really
works in your company. This is best updated on a quarterly basis if your company has a high rate of change. This is different than what managers want—though it
does include system competencies.
Make the last person hired the orienta-
tion guide for the new hire. As the last
one oriented, they are the ultimate keep-
er of the list and can modify it to add
or delete items. If your refrigerator eti-
quette or IT policies have changed, then
they are in the best position to update
the list. This guide is the “go to” person
for what can be a rocky trail for new em-
ployees. They would be the source for di-
recting the new employee to subject mat-
ter experts that the new employee needs
to know. Upon completion of the list the
newly oriented person adds to or modi-
fies the list and becomes the next guide.
Leadership ‘TED Talks’
Have your leadership individually give
five to ten minute meetings covering how
what their team does helps the mission
of the company and how best to succeed.
Hold them accountable to the time limit
and make it happen. Encourage questions and two-way dialogue. Any senior
manager who can’t take five minutes to
orient new employees has a problem bigger than a busy schedule.
This can be approached several ways.
Mentors from within the work team are
beneficial in getting someone up to speed
on competency or productivity, but
someone outside the group can help with
understanding the culture and the “way
things work” at your company so friendship and support happens more quickly.
The Gallup poll on “best places to work”
has always found that in the best places
to work people say that they have a friend
they can talk to and confide in.
Embed Cultural Values
Find a way to tell the story of who you
are as a company, from your humble
beginnings to how you got to where you
are today. Tell the story of why you do
what you do as a company and what you
believe in. Interpret your values through
stories to enroll people and set clear ex-
pectations. Everyone loves a story, espe-
cially when it includes the path of where
you have been, where you are going, and
how you intend to get there.
After thirty days, engage in new employee listening sessions. Find someone who
can neutrally listen, in small sessions, to
hear what’s working and areas to improve
within the company. Asking if we are living our values is a powerful question for
fresh-eyed employees and especially new
graduates. Other pertinent questions are:
What do we need to start
or stop doing?
Do you have the tools and resources
to do your job?
Do you have your manager’s support?
Where are the bottlenecks and where
are the opportunities?
Insight and action plans that come
out of these sessions can make huge differences in how business gets done and
Onboarding New Employees
Onboarding new employees doesn’t have
to be a sink or swim proposition. Each
person has talents and gifts that they
bring to the company when they join,
and if they are enrolled and engaged
properly, they will bring positive change
to any organization. If you want to take
your team or company to the next level
of performance, there is no better way to
bring that about than by fully engaging
new employees. R
Welcome to the Family
Tips for onboarding new employees
Kevin M. Dee has a master’s
degree from Vanderbilt University
and is the president of KMD
Services & Consulting. He has
more than twenty-eight years of
experience providing leadership
development, and human
resource services in Alaska and
internationally. Contact him at