Having a new employee join you is a positive time for any business. It either means that your business is growing and you need more people or that someone has moved on from your organisation and you have the chance to bring in some “new blood”. However, all too often we see things go badly wrong when there’s a new member of the team. There are the horror stories of the new person arriving on the Monday and no one is expecting them because the news of their impending arrival did not make it to the people who actually needed to know. There’s no desk, no computer and no welcome committee. Not exactly the best possible impression!
1 Plan properly
There are two secrets to planning for a new member of staff. The first is to think about the key people who need to know and get them involved in the planning. They will know exactly what the new person will require for their first day, their first week and so on. Make sure you give consideration to the practical elements like laptops, PCs, mobile phones, desk phones, passwords for IT systems etc. You will know the exact date on which this new recruit will be joining you so there is no excuse for not being ready on time. The second is to review the strengths and weaknesses of the new person, information you’ll have at your fingertips since you’ve just recruited them. You should definitely have standard elements to your induction plan but you should also tailor the plan to the individual and their strengths and weaknesses.
2 Set expectations
There are some practical considerations for new employees such as
- issuing a written statement of terms and conditions within 8 weeks of the start date
- giving them a staff handbook which clearly explain the rules of the company
It’s also essential for the new person to be clear on your expectations of them. If your job description doesn’t already tell them how their performance will be measured, make sure that you tell them within the first few weeks of them joining.
Other points on setting expectations are:
- give clear instructions and check that they understand what they’re being asked to do
- tell them who they can ask for more information or where they can go to source the information for themselves
- give them responsibilities within their own areas
- be clear about their area of authority – what are they responsible for and just as importantly, what they’re not responsible for
- be clear about the consequences of failure to meet the performance targets and/or compliance with the company’s rules
3 Communicate regularly
One of the main problems when a new employee joins a company is lack of communication. They start on their first day, someone asks how they’re getting on at the end of the first week and that’s about it. Left to their own devices to sink or swim and invariably, they’re going to sink. As soon as the new recruit joins you, set dates at regular intervals for both formal meetings and informal conversations about their progress. You will have a great opportunity to monitor how they’re getting on, identify potential problems early and be proactive in dealing with any issues.
4 Ask questions
Induction of a new member of staff is never a one way process. That new person normally brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with them, whether that’s from previous roles, knowledge of the industry, working for a competitor… wherever the knowledge has come from, use it! Some ideas of what you can ask about:
- how things were done in their previous role/s
- what they think about the way you do things
- any suggestions they have for things you could do differently
- if working for your company is meeting or exceeding their expectations and if not, why not
- anything they wish they’d known before joining you (helps with future planning!)
5. Manage the probation
A probationary period sets the expectation that the employee’s performance is going to be closely monitored over a set period of time. That can be anything from 1 to 6 months, although it’s common to have at least a 3 month probation. The purpose is to allow both sides to decide if they’re right for each other and it should always be treated like a two way process. Throughout the probationary period, regular communication is a must, along with asking questions and checking understanding. A practical point which lots of people don’t do – note the end date of the probationary period on a calendar and set a reminder for one month before. At that point, you should be able to make a decision on the way forward.
6 Take action
A probationary period has a definitive end date and requires a decision and an action to follow up that decision. The three possible outcomes are:
- Employee is doing a fantastic job – meet with them to confirm their permanent position in the company and follow that up in writing
- Employee is doing an ok job but you’ve identified some areas where they need to improve and are managing them through those improvements – extend the probationary period for an appropriate period of time (usually a further 3 months)
- Employee is not doing well despite all best efforts to work with them – terminate their contract. Having managed the probationary period and communicated throughout, the employee will already know that