Starting a new position with a new company or firm can be exciting and daunting in equal measures. Particularly if you’ve finally landed a job at a place that promises good progression and fits your current career aspirations. Your direct manager seemed pleasant and approachable during the hiring process and you’re eager to start making a good impression following your initial induction. And this is where things stall. The induction doesn’t happen; or if it does, it fizzles out pretty quickly. Onboarding is less of a process and more of a half-hearted afterthought… with very little thought involved.
Poor onboarding practices decrease employee engagement, in turn increasing employee turnover and make for an unhealthy hiring cycle, while lowering overall productivity. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity: equal to nine per cent of global GDP. Not to mention the fact that the risk of employee turnover is highest early on, sometimes occurring within an employee’s first 45 days on the job. Onboarding is therefore crucial in ensuring that new recruits do not leave to seek greener pastures when the tools they need to set them up for success are hard to find.
If you do persevere and choose to stay in the job, you have to be pro-active in your attempts to be viewed as the best choice the company made when they hired you. Taking matters into your own hands and showing initiative means that your next best move if you’re facing poor induction techniques, is to create your own personal onboarding plan, which you tailor to the specific needs of your client: you! Along with basics like learning the company’s tools and systems, connecting with your manager, and getting updates on ongoing projects, Gled Tsipersky at the Harvard Business Review suggests that your onboarding plan should include some subtler moves such as acquainting yourself with the company culture and connecting with key stakeholders.
Here are six specific aspects to consider when crafting your own individualised onboarding plan, to make your transition into a new company as smooth as possible:
Make sure you get the obvious and the nitty gritty checked off your list first. Speak to both the HR and IT departments to sort out any hardware you may need, as well as passwords, clearance, access codes and company manuals. Get hold of a list of people directly in your team, their contact details and extension numbers. Knowing what the company policies and your personal responsibilities are, already goes a long way in ensuring that you’re on the right track to fulfilling your role effectively. Getting clear instructions on how to navigate scheduling tools, communication hubs, in-house protocols and systems as well as CMS is crucially important in saving you time and mitigating feelings of inefficiency and inadequacy, especially when long-term employees are doing it faster and easily because they are used it to. This is particularly useful in work-environments which are hybrid and require a VPN network connection: which you also need to get sorted right away.
Try to contact your manager within the first couple of days into settling in. Send them a private email and ask them whether they would be fine with a regular scheduled meeting with you. This can be either online or in person and will help you get feedback from them regularly while also opening a strong line of communication. Being able to ask questions and bounce ideas off them at an appropriate time that suits both of you ensures that they can give you due attention without distraction and lets them know you can manage yourself while following their consistent guidance.
While your manager should be your first port of call, so should the rest of your team. Getting acquainted with them via regular work catchups and meetings is invaluable to integrating properly with those who you will work with most closely. A contact from another team whose work overlaps with yours and might job-share with you or consult with you is also good to connect with along with other stakeholders like contacts from HR, IT and internal committees. Networking is never a bad thing: whether via formal meetings or better still quick informal chats and catch-ups, which keep you updated on what is going on.
This brings us to observing the company and have a finger on its pulse. Get used to the dynamics of your team and other co-working groups. Sit in on meetings where you can and do the mandatory training, while getting a good idea of the general vibe the company has. What is its pace? What is its ethos? What makes it tick? And what makes it work?
Involve yourself in company activities and social events beyond the office bubble. Try to mix with your peers across the company as well as those higher up the scale. Set up quick coffee chats regularly throughout the week during breaktimes and really get to know your colleagues beyond their roles at work. Knowing that a colleague might be going through a rough personal patch or a big change can make your work responses more sensitive and measured when dealing with them on projects or internal matters. The personal touch is a strong integrative factor.
Finally – be polite and respectful. Be a team-player willing to involve yourself and help out, but avoid being annoyingly enthusiastic about every new thing that crops up. An equal balance of restraint and keenness makes for greater likeability.
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