When a job offer is accepted, the individual begins a period of transition which is critical in setting the tone for success. Research indicates that most people start a new job with enthusiasm and a very positive view of the company and the job opportunity. They want to succeed and grow.

Management failures in both hiring and the first few months are directly responsible for most attrition within the first two years. Yes, and for most performance problems as well. You can avoid many problems with an effective hiring and orientation process. Once you have hired someone with the right skills, attitude, and abilities, you control most other success factors. These factors are knowledge, tools, and motivation.

Smart employers begin supporting the new employee before the person starts. You should make arrangements for the tools the person needs so that all are available when the person starts work. These tools includes work space/facilities, equipment, materials, and information on important procedures and practices.  You may want to send required paperwork out to the person before they start so that they can fill it out and bring it with them on the first day and minimize that aspect of orientation.  Staying in touch, especially if it will be 3-4 weeks before the person starts, also can be done with a few quick interesting texts or emails.

Inform other employees of the new person’s function and background so that they are prepared to welcome and assist the person. You should introduce the person to other employees as quickly as possible after the person starts work. Start with the immediate co-workers and then others in the organization with whom this person will interact.

The smartest way to help develop a successful employee is a realistic work plan for the first month. This plan will provide an orientation to the company goals for the work unit, the relationship of the specific position to the functioning of the unit, and position responsibilities. A new hire also needs to know about the overall business and where their work will fit in. This includes a detailed discussion of the company: its history, philosophy, and goals; the business and marketplace or competition; the unit’s role in the organization; and then the job itself.

The first discussion, whether with a new hire or a transfer, is the time to set the employee’s expectations. Job content, responsibilities, and performance standards should be clearly explained. Be sure to include interfaces with others and how this position affects the success of your company. If the position supports other functions, clarify their role as well. Whether done all at once or over two days, include:

  • Review why you selected this person and reinforce the positive expectations which you have.
    Talk about your supervisory style and the way you like to work.
    Be clear about your personal style and how you want to receive information, questions, or issues of concern.
    Describe staff meetings and any other meetings you want the person to attend and explain how these work.
    Then discuss the work plan for the first few weeks.
    Use this time to clearly describe the first work assignments and how you will evaluate the work.

If you expect and demonstrate high performance standards immediately, you will usually get high performance rapidly. Taking this time in the beginning reduces the probability of time-consuming rework or corrective actions later. Later in this first month, you should meet to discuss how the assignment is going, address any needs the person has, and provide some performance feedback.  Smart small businesses often have a 30 day checklist for the person which includes specific learning objectives and tools as well as meetings and work goals.