Danielle M. Verderosa

Danielle M. Verderosa

President, HR Allies

The “Good Enough” Onboarding

I know many HR consultants and practitioners who preach the importance of The Perfect Onboarding – a system of activities, metrics, and milestones planned out for a new hire so that their integration into an organization is a long-term success.

The Perfect Onboarding is designed over the new employee’s first 12 months on the job and involve multiple touchpoints with HR, Training, Company Executives, Peers, and Mentors.

I surely don’t disagree that an effective onboarding program is critical to building loyalty, engagement, and productivity from your new hire – but geeesh.  12 months?

As Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins so eloquently said in 2012 – “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Onboarding doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. 

If you’re short on time and resources – and aren’t we all? – there is a much simpler way to capture the heart and mind of your new employee without breaking a sweat.

I call it The “Good Enough” Onboarding.

And if you have to choose between not making any effort to onboard your new employee or making a “good enough” effort, I think you’ll find that The “Good Enough” Onboarding is a great investment of your limited time.

First, let me tell you about the best book by far I ever read about onboarding employees.

It’s called The Five Firsts:  A Simple System to Onboard, Engage, and Retain Top Talent and written by the Founder of Humetrics, Mel Kleiman.

The Five Firsts is written for managers who don’t have the luxury of dedicating 12 months to concoct and then shepherd a new employee through an elaborate onboarding system.  I bet that’s you.

If you’ve known me for awhile, I’ve probably gushed to you about Mel before – the tips and strategies he puts in all of his books and speaking engagements are so practical and easy to apply that they’ll take you just a little bit of your valuable time to have a big payoff.

Mel Kleiman has been my own Human Resources Go-To Guru for recruiting, selecting, hiring, and onboarding employees for almost 20 years.

Inspired by Mel, here’s how a “Good Enough” Onboarding program starts:

Pull out all the stops to intentionally make the new employee’s first hour on the job the best hour he’s ever spent at any job.

You don’t mind investing an hour of your time in a new employee, right?  Because this first hour is the most critical hour in winning over your new employee.

In my early 30’s, I enthusiastically started a new job as a Regional HR Manager but I knew within the first hour that I was going to hate working there.

How could a company lose my own heart and mind so quickly?

When I walked in, my new boss toured me around the office and introduced me to everyone.  As she was made her first introduction, she said to me “I should tell you, we already have another Danielle in the office, so we’re going to call you Dani.”

Hey!  I don’t let anyone at work call me Dani!  Why are you re-naming me without asking me?

Then, when the tour was over, she half-apologetically told me “We didn’t have time to order a desk for you, so scooch up a chair and you can sit next to me for the next few weeks.”

I mean, I accepted the job offer three weeks ago …

Instead of feeling warm and fuzzy and welcomed, I felt decidedly unwelcomed.

Did I rise above that feeling and show them I was the best Regional HR Manager they ever had?  Dear Reader, I did not.  I became hyper-sensitive to other things about the company that didn’t suit me, and TBH I was a decidedly lackluster employee until I quit a few months later.

Here’s how to make a new employee’s first hour something special:

    • Don’t make them spend their first hour doing paperwork.   They’ve walked in your door excited – that paperwork is a giant buzzkill.  There’ll be time later to do it – so save it for a moment of downtime. 
    • Give them your full, undivided attention. I don’t care how fast you need them to start – make sure that their first day coincides with your clear schedule during their first hour, even if that means they start a little later. 
    • Flatter them – sincerely. Tell them how hard you worked to find the perfect candidate, and how many other applicants they beat out.  Tell them exactly what you liked about them during interview process, and what your hiring team discussed internally that led to their decision. 
    • Ask them about themselves. Want to know another thing that lots of HR experts overcomplicate?  Employee Recognition.  Want to know what’s going to motivate your new employee?  Want to know how your new employee prefers to be shown appreciation?  Flat-out ask them.  And take notes.  Your new hire will be even more excited to work for a company that cares so much about showing appreciation that the topic made Hour One’s Agenda. 
    • Sell them on the company. They probably learned about your benefits and working conditions already, but what other things do you and other employees appreciate about the organization?  Sure, the new employee will eventually make his own mind up about your culture and other intangibles, but front-load all the positivity into this first hour to keep that New Hire Enthusiasm up.

    Don’t get me wrong – “Good Enough” Onboarding doesn’t end after the first hour.  It’s just how it starts.  But if you’d like to hear about the other, even easier steps to The “Good Enough” Onboarding, let’s talk about it for free!  I’ve got lots more practical and effective HR ideas that’ll save you time and worry.

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