Setting A New Employee Up For Success

by Paddy Barr, Managing Partner, Barr Performance Coaching and IMI associate

Induction within an organisation, whether big or small, is an essential element in making the role a success. The induction process allows the new employee to gain valuable insight into the organisation, the culture and the working environment.

As the hiring manager you play a key role in determining whether your new employee has a positive start in the company. Your key objective here is to set the individual up for success.

It is important to set out clear success criteria for the individual in the role over the short (0-3 months), medium (3-9 months), and long term (12-18 months). It is also important to be able to clearly explain how you will help give them the required context and knowledge to achieve these goals. The new employee must be shown how their role contributes to the success of the team/division/company.

The essential documents to be provided to all new recruits are as follows:

  • A complete job description, which includes:
    • Company business summary;
    • Role purpose;
    • Responsibilities and accountabilities;
    • Technical skills and experience required;
    • Business skills, competencies and experience required.
  • Outline the expectations of the individual in the role
    • Clarify key job functions – the areas where the individual will make a significant contribution
    • Give precise responsibilities;
    • Give an overview of the culture and way of working in the company;
    • Share the expectations of the manager and any other senior staff who will be supported by this role ;
    • Stakeholder engagement – Who is who in the zoo?
    • Be very clear on decision-making authority and empowerment;
    • Clarify budgetary and management responsibilities;
    • Clarify the structure of your department and its place in the organisational hierarchy;
    • Explain the lateral lines of responsibility and liaison;
    • Determine key internal customers and suppliers they will need to establish effective working relationships with;
    • Clarify the measurable objectives that will be reviewed regularly (e.g. how the individual contributes to the overall profitability and development of the organisation as a whole);
    • The measurement criteria for the individual and the department (so you can check that your performance targets are realistic and achievable). 

It is imperative that the individual has a very clear understanding of what success looks like for them in the role.  Pay particular attention to the outcomes you expect the individual to achieve and how you expect the individual to go about delivering results. i.e. what are the behavioural norms within the company – the unwritten rules, the custom and practice.Identify knowledge or competency gaps and put together a development plan for the individual

List stakeholders and latent issues that may be surfaced once a new person is brought into the role. To do this, create a stakeholder map that clearly illustrates who the key stakeholders are, their key areas of interest focusing on what they will expect from the new employee and what the employee will need from the stakeholder.  It may be useful to draw a map, or a one-page matrix, to show the alignment and relationships between the individual’s objectives, the team’s objectives, and the company’s objectives.  Using paper and pen, practice drawing up a map, or a one-page matrix, to show the alignment and relationships between the individual’s objectives, the team’s objectives, and the company’s objectives.

Tips, Tricks and Takeaways

  • Buddy System: Consider appointing a buddy or mentor from within the team to help with the individual’s induction into the company.
  • Stakeholder meetings: Set up a series of introductory meetings for the new employee so that when they arrive their calendar already has some structure. Be sure also to set up informal meetings with peers and co-workers so that the individual gets an opportunity to meet people in a relaxed setting.
  • Arrange a follow-up: Set up a time to check in with the employee specifically on their induction. Remember, there should be no surprise at the end of the probation period; the employee should be regularly (at least monthly assuming a 6 month probation) made aware of their progress and how well or otherwise they are doing. If necessary, it is critical that the individual is given time to course correct before the end of the probation period.
  • Acronyms: All organisations use acronyms however an acronym in one company may mean something completely different in another company or industry – if you can give the employee an acronym dictionary it may be very helpful.

In summary:

It is critical that any new employee understands how their role contributes to the overall success of the team and the company.  Talk to the last person hired into the company and ask them about their experience and what they would have appreciated at the time.  Put the new employee at ease and let them know that there is time for them to get acquainted with their new colleagues and learn about the company.  Encourage them to ask questions and share observations.