Onboarding Series Part 3: The First Month, A Success For All

In part 2 of this series, we lay out how pre-boarding is the opportunity to make a great first impression on a new hire. Day one, week one, and month one also have a lasting impression on your new employee. What’s your day one story?

Week one is your opportunity to keep the positive momentum rolling in the recruitment process post the pre-boarding phase. 

The ingredients for making day one memorable: 

  • Put effort into the welcome (we all know when something is made with love!) 
  • Foster belonging
  • Get to know the person (authenticity does not mean invading privacy!)
  • Help them & yourself settle down to the new circumstance. 

Poor first-day experiences could look like a combination: 

  • Lack of a face-to-face welcome
  • An email with a lot of links with a two-hour time limit to revive and asks questions
  • Having to attend a pre-scheduled meeting with no context of the project, absence of pre-introductions to teammates collaborations, and no speaking role in the meeting
  • Delaying meeting the direct manager for more than a day
  • Reviewing previous documents without context on working norms

As a recap to part 1 of the series, poor onboarding leads to confusion, fear, doubt and questioning of one’s sense of belonging.

A successful first day could look like: 

  • Start: Later start of the day leaves you time to settle in before you meet with the new hire.
  • Break the ice: In their calendar (which they already have access to), schedule a Welcome to the Meeting with the HR team & direct manager. Keep it casual.
  • Belonging: provide a personal touch; tech startups are infamous for sending merchandise welcome packages; even a virtual coffee gift card is a nice touch.
  • Team Announcement:  Use your internal messaging system to share the person’s role, background and anything that fits with your culture.
  • Pre-Schedule System and Process Meeting: 1-2 hours should give you enough time for an individual or cohort of hires to see processes and systems in action and ask question
  • Provide a Week one brief: remove the ambiguity and send them a pre-scheduled email for the rest of the day, or set up a meeting to review expectations for the first week.

If day one has a robust setup, the rest of the week can be dedicated company’s product and its capabilities with the new hire. 

Day 2 and 3- understanding the WHY behind the role: 

Your team likely knows where the gaps exist, whereas your new hire will not know what’s been tried and tested. Supporting a new team member and the larger team on why this role is important will clarify the role and strengthen the highly sought-after feeling of belonging.

You can explain each role by breaking it down into how the tasks contribute to projects/processes and projects/processes fit into the larger goals and targets. You can dive into each category’s expectations of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and HOW MUCH (quantity), HOW (quality).

  • Tasks
  • Projects
  • Goals / Targets
  • Expectations

In between these sessions, sprinkle in meetings with team members. Ask your existing members to book these and show initiative; it will ensure the new hire does not feel like they are interrupting etc. 

Support your larger team’s introductions: 

  1. Create a resource like a manager’s new hire first meeting template
  2. Provide your team with a list of ice breakers 
  3. Record your company’s meeting guidelines and set the expectation these are used (encourage ice-breakers, introductions, agendas, record keeping.) 

Day 4 & 5, identify and communicate the first deliverable: 

The first deliverable can be simple and meaningful. What can your new hire submit in their first three weeks that encourages collaboration and gives insight into their ways of working? 

This type of task allows individuals to quickly feel a sense of accomplishment while providing insights into their communication style, skills and abilities. 

First deliverable examples include:

  1. Trying a product feature and providing feedback to the right person 
  2. Research about a competitor and present it to the team 
  3. Analyze competitor’s product and report the findings to the team 
  4. Assess a current process in the organization and provide recommendation 
  5. Asses a gap in the onboarding and create a valuable resource for the organization.

End the last day of the first week with room for feedback and reflection that you capture.

It's critical that you create moments for reflection and feedback about the own onboarding process.

Collecting feedback and creating room for reflection has two crucial roles.

  1. New hires anchor learnings and insights themselves, helping you and them create clarity around any miscommunication to speed up the process. 
  2. Feedback from each new hire is a golden opportunity to continue to elevate your onboarding.

Throughout your onboarding, build several touch points to collect feedback and reflect. (Day 1, week 1, month one touch-points). Collecting feedback can be difficult; get creative. We recommend:

  • Simple feedback forms with open-ended questions 
  • Surveys to assess various aspects of the onboarding and score them
  • One-on-one reflections with the manager and HR person
  • Group reflections if you enroll several hires at the same time

The remaining of the first month is an extension of week one and a transition period to move from onboarding to ongoing! To make it a success: 

Schedule ongoing meetings between the new hire and other teams. 

  • A good rule of thumb is thirty minutes for each meet-up. Encourage all the participants to make the first meet-up more about learning about the person than the role. 

Review their first deliverable.

  • This is an opportunity to frame the culture of feedback
  • You can try models like AID, which stands for Action, Impact and Desired outcomes.

Ask for feedback on their onboarding experience. 

  • Set specific time aside for this and listen. Feedback is a great learning opportunity.
  • Ask clarifying questions if needed.
  • Follow up and follow through on what you heard and learned. The best proof that you were present during the feedback session and value their insights is to follow up and act on the feedback.

You’ve made it to the end of their first month.

After completing their first deliverable and receiving feedback, your new hire is now ready to tackle a bigger challenge in line with your organization’s needs and objectives. The end of month one is an excellent opportunity to stop and celebrate the milestone. It’s also a great time to debrief with the new hire’s buddy. 

Recap everyone’s learnings, apply them and set the new hire up for success until their 90-day milestone. Ultimately, no two onboarding processes are perfectly alike. Our aim is these tips, articles, videos and resources to support you in building yours.