New employees can be brimming with energy, questions, or even nervousness, so it is important to orient them to their job in a way that is effective, positive and exciting. No matter how skilled your hire is, there is always an adjustment period when starting a new job, and motivating them through this phase is important if you want them to reach their full potential or stick around long term.
Directing their new-hire energy is best done through a combination of instruction, evaluation, and motivation. If they don’t seem to possess any of this first-day enthusiasm, it is especially important to focus them on the task at hand, as well as the rewards they stand to earn by doing your job to a degree of excellence. By making the onboarding process as practical, motivational and fun as possible, you can inspire new hires to give their all for their new employer.
The Importance of Onboarding
A thorough onboarding process is essential for motivating new hires. Too often, employee orientation is forgotten when some of the “real work” begins, leaving the employee confused or unsure in their new position.
This is not the head-space that you want your new hire to be in. Even on a deadline or in “crunch time”, it’s quite important to check in with a new hire until both of you are satisfied that they can work autonomously and you can get back to doing your job.
New hires always feel pressure to prove themselves (or not) and may take on tasks that they cannot actually complete the standards or style of the work done at your company. When you start to entrust them to produce the completed product of their job autonomously, you want to be sure that you won’t be putting out any fires by accepting their reassurances.
Another risk of improper onboarding is the new hire failing to bond with their new employer, leaving them more prone to losing their drive after the introductory period. First impressions matter, and after the first 6 months or the first year, the start of their experience will be a factor in how they think about their future.
So, for an effective, motivational onboarding, you need to make sure that you’re hitting the following points:
The hire feels comfortable in their surroundings and can navigate your office and the environment around your office.
The hire knows the functional purpose of their job and why it’s important to your company.
The hire knows the people they work with and knows who they can go to for advice or consultation.
The hire knows the culture of your company, your company’s values and your company’s mission.
The hire knows what to expect from the onboarding process and knows what’s coming beyond this introductory period.
The hire knows which jobs and company functions are supported by their hard work.
The hire knows that they are a valued asset of your company, but also valued as an individual with unique goals and values.
The hire knows how their work contributes to the success of their employer.
The hire knows the performance incentive model that your company uses and understands the path to earning these rewards.
The hire knows the future career opportunities open to them at your company if they put in enough time and hard work in their new job.
Onboarding new hires should be an involved process, but it should not be exhausting. While there will be many procedures and details to communicate in the onboarding process, this process still needs to motivate the hire, not confuse or overwhelm them. However, by making sure that the new hire is hitting these knowledge/experiential points in the onboarding process, you can ensure their effective work, motivate them to engage in their job and allow them to bond with your company.
Moving to Greater Autonomy
Ultimately, the purpose of a thorough onboarding is setting up employees to work effectively on their own. After you have observed the new hire in action, given them pointers, and seen the final product of their work, you have a question to answer.
“Do I trust this hire to work autonomously, or would they benefit from more coaching and instruction at this point?
If your answer is “no,” then you should check in with the new hire and discuss the potential barriers that you see to them working on their own.
If your answer is “yes,” then you should let the new hire know that you are ready to let them work independently. However, you should leave the door open for them to request additional training, input or oversite. Even if they feel confident in their work, employees who care about the quality of their work may still have many questions for you. You should be saying something like this:
“You’ve proven yourself to be very capable with the tasks that we currently have you working on. I have confidence that you’re going to do fine on your own, but I wanted to know what you think. Are you ready to work on your own authority, or would you like some more instruction before this next phase begins?”
This shows the new hire that you have faith in their skills, but also gives them the option to ask for more help if they need it. It’s a low-pressure way of encouraging the hire to start walking in the new shoes they’re filling, offering them greater freedom as well as support.
When employees are properly oriented to their new job, they will be much more motivated to do their best in that job. Leaving employees to figure things out for themselves is never advised until both manager and employee are confident. If the onboarding process is non-existent or confusing, then new hires will only be motivated by the fear of being fired from a job that was never properly explained to them. Motivate your employees with a great onboarding experience and the knowledge of what their hard work will accomplish and what rewards it will earn them.
Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder’s of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes — from start-ups to Fortune 500’s. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He’s a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.
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