— Phil Geldart
I recently facilitated a New Leader’s Assimilation Meeting with her team. I am sure both parties (new leader and team) had some sense of trepidation but all participated in the meeting with honesty, candor, commitment to developing a strong, impactful team, a positive attitude and a sense of fun. The team posed some great questions, shared some valuable insights and the new leader responded with authenticity; meaning in some cases, she did not yet have the answer.
The meeting lasted a little over three hours and although there is much more for the team to discuss and know about each other, there was a clear “jump start” to the understanding of how this team would like and will work together, the talent of each of its members, the challenges they may face, the path to building strong relationships and aligning their work with business results.
It continued to reinforce my belief that On-Boarding a New Leader or New Team Member is critically important.
Here are some best practices for effective New Team Member On-Boarding:
- Start before Day One: Create a bridge between interaction with recruiting and training. Ensure there is a smooth transition; the New Team Member always has a point of contact and all the information they will need before day one. Encourage the team member’s manager and other leaders to reach out with a welcome before they start working.
- Be Prepared and Energize Day One: First impressions are lasting. This goes for the Company as well as the New Team Member. Spend time planning and organizing their first day. Prepare an agenda, set up appropriate meetings, have their paperwork ready, plan a tour, ensure their workspace and tools are organized and ready to go. Keep the day interesting and energizing for your New Team Member.
- Educate: Clarify the job expectations and provide appropriate time and tools for training.
- Share the Unwritten Rules: Companies usually do a good job of sharing policies and procedures with New Team Members. Effective on-boarding also shares the unwritten rules: communication methods and channels, “normal” working hours, level of acceptable risk taking, fun and energy that exists and is encouraged, relationships that exist in the organization.
- Communicate Culture: On-boarding provides the first chance to build brand loyalty within the Team Member population. Include opportunities to share company values and tangible examples of how those values are lived each day by Team Members.
- Facilitate Relationships: Many organizations report that strong work relationships and friendships contribute to increased retention. Start day one to facilitate relationship building. Schedule New Team Member meetings with key individuals in and out of their department. Conduct a New Leader’s Assimilation Meeting with their department and with their peers.
- On-Boarding is Longer than the First Few Days: Check back in regularly with your New Team Member and with their supervisor to see how they are doing. Sharing the feedback, celebrating accomplishments or assisting with course correction will continue the New Team Member towards success.
In the end, both the New Team Member and the Company benefit. The Team Member becomes familiar and comfortable with their job role and productivity increases. The Team Member feels welcomed, engaged and valued and a brand ambassador is created. Strong working relationships are begun and collaboration and teamwork are increased. Company culture is communicated and Team Member performance is aligned with strategic goals. Overall Team Member retention is improved, performance is increased and business results achieved.