New employee orientation, also known as onboarding, is essential to familiarizing new employees with your workplace. A proper orientation program allows new hires to be more productive at a faster pace by making sure they understand the procedures that help your company run smoothly, setting expectations for performance, and providing a formal opportunity to ask questions. But after your official orientation period ends, how can you ensure that a new employee's integration into the workplace has been a success?
Even if your company doesn’t conduct a formal orientation or onboarding program, there is good reason for you, as a manager, to connect with new hires around the 90-day mark. If your company is like most, your employees are your biggest investment and you need to ensure that the dollars spent on recruitment, compensation, training, and education are being put to good use. New employees are also unencumbered with a long history at your organization, and as such can often offer fresh perspectives and insights. Finally, sitting down with a recent hire will build goodwill. Showing the employee that you are eager for feedback and committed to his or her success will go a long way.
The first piece of your check-in meeting can be an assessment of the employee’s performance to date. Unless specifically mandated by company policy, this is not a formal review, and, in the absence of specific concerns, you can treat it as a progress update rather than an evaluation. Nevertheless, you should prepare in advance a list of job tasks and duties, and an assessment of how well the employee has performed. If much of the employment period so far has been dedicated to training, you can assess his or her performance in that area. The point is to offer constructive feedback. Most importantly, be specific. Remember that a new employee is still finding his or her way; what may seem obvious to you may not be so to him or her. You should be sure to discuss areas of strength, as well as areas that may need improvement. In the latter case, outline both your expectations and how you will assist the employee in meeting them.
Next, move into more open-ended questions. This is where you will gain insight into how the employee is acclimating to your organization. Ask the employee how he or she is doing, what he or she likes best, and what challenges are present. Inquire whether the employee's experiences are consistent with how the job was presented during the hiring process. Next, get specific by asking whether the employee understands his or her job role, and whether he or she feels that adequate time, support and resources are being provided to complete the job. Ask the employee to highlight his or her best day or experience on the job, and to explain how the employee feels he or she is contributing. Solicit any suggestions on systems or processes that could be improved or made more efficient. Also, don’t forget to ask if the employee has any concerns or unanswered questions—even the most formal onboarding programs can leave gaps, so answer to the best of your ability or promise to obtain an answer from management or HR if appropriate.
Lastly, wrap up with a plan for moving forward with input from both you and the employee. This could encompass specific job duties, areas of increased responsibility, training, or education. Discuss your individual and mutual goals with the employee, and reiterate your commitment to helping him or her achieve them. Again, be specific with your plans to offer training and further education, including the types of training and timeframes. Finally, remind your employee that your door is open, and that you are willing to hear feedback or help correct course at any time. It is always easier to deal with situations or concerns as they arise throughout the year, rather than waiting for a formal review.
Thank you for joining us today for HR Over Coffee. To learn more about HR and benefits management, including information on conducting onboarding and performance reviews, please visit us at HR360.com.