Seven Tips When Onboarding Recruits

*Number three is ‘Be Patient’

In Start-Up World, new recruits can create a bad impression or veer off course fast. They’ll be keen to get going and show off: to make a difference ASAP. Your job? Encourage them to chill out. Because no-one can make a first impression twice. And if they don’t land well from the start, it’s your fault.

Yup: that’s right. Their bad start will probably be your fault.

A new big hitter, for example, will quickly open up their bag of tricks. It’s what I call ‘quick wins’ or the old “This is what we did in my old place and it worked” routine. Their show-stopper. It’s a signature fireworks display.

Even the greenest, least experienced rookie will want to make a strong impression. But they’ll be unsure how to fit in if you don’t give them clear signals and guidelines. If they have a scratchy start, you either a) made a bad character choice, or you b) slotted them badly into the culture. Hard as it is to hear, it’s on you.

This new person, no matter how brilliant or experienced, needs to observe the team, understand the culture and gently join the flow – not build a big dam and change the course of the river. If major disruption tactics look like a good idea to them, you probably already have a below-par culture in place.

Either way, it’s a ‘You’ problem.

Whatever the culture, new recruits are keen to prove themselves; to show you that you’ve made the right decision. They want to create positive change and to impress. In business, impressing people (and especially our colleagues around us; even more so if we are new) is built into our DNA. We want to stand out and show our new bosses and our peers that this is the right choice.

So when you bring someone new into the fold, you have to onboard them right. Let them know it’s okay to sit back, observe and join the stream slowly. 

My seven tips to help make onboarding a pleasant and meaningful experience for everyone:

  1. Build career-pathing into the recruitment process; this creates empathy from the outset.
  2. Have a clear mentorship programme that recruits of any experience level can join.
  3. Advise your newbie to be patient. Encourage observation time and warn them off a firework show that’ll be a damp squib or create staff divides.
  4. Foster a happy culture of personal interests: celebrating quirks cements trust.
  5. Support camaraderie (skimping on fun social events is a false economy).
  6. Discuss company fails alongside wins: it’ll make newbies respect your honesty.
  7. Make your Diversity and Inclusion scaffolding truly active. Having a wider range of voices singing the same song takes longer but it’s crucial for unique, successful companies.

If you manage all these, you’re doing brilliantly and the chances are your team will be strong and happy. Best of luck.