A manager’s role does not stop when the employment offer is given; in fact that is when the real work begins. It is understandable that some leaders are keen to empower new employees to find their feet, but a manager has the most to gain by onboarding new hires effectively.

There is nothing worse than investing countless hours into a rigorous recruitment process, only to have the new employee resign a month later because the role is not meeting expectations. The manager is best positioned to understand what success looks like, and which resources and connections will create the platform for the new hire to shine.

An effective, tailored, and engaging onboarding process plays a key role in reducing turnover of new hires as it provides appropriate support and access to the right people to get the job done. But the role of the manager goes much deeper than coordinating computer log ins and a welcome morning tea. Long after the ink on the employment contract is dry, the new hire is reflecting on whether the business is their perfect match or merely a quick pitstop on the career journey.

5 tips for managers to successfully support new hires into their team

1. Predict the obstacles

Even the most talented new hire will come across challenges, so it is critical that the manager can try and predict the obstacles. It may be a new business, industry, culture or even city for the new hire, so it should not be assumed that they can just slide into day to day operations.

Reflect on:

• What or who could be a likely hurdle?
• What feedback have exiting employees previously provided about this position?
• Does the tasks and challenges lined up align to reasonable employee expectations?
• What support mechanisms are in place?
• What specifically will you do to ensure that the new hire is on track and engaged?
• Is it ‘safe’ for new employees to flag their concerns?

2. Join the dots

Sometimes, when a new hire joins the team; existing employees don’t really understand why that person has been hired. The sooner that productive workplace relationships can be formed; the quicker the new hire will add value. Don’t allow existing employees to be left scratching their head about your hiring decision; position them positively. For example:

We are excited that Sam has accepted the position of ‘X’. They bring with them a great depth of experience in the manufacturing industry over the last 15 years. In addition, Sam was previously responsible for rolling out the software that we have just purchased for our business. This experience will be advantageous to our success.”

3. Customise a training plan

When new hires start, many businesses purely focus on the technical training. Of course, this is important and should be prioritised; but there is a lot more to learn. Consider breaking training down into:

Technical training – the elements required to successfully perform the position.

Product training – the core products and services offered by the business today and what is planned for the future.

Competitor training – who are the competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Strategy training – what is the organisation’s strategic plan? What are the key goals that the new hire can help to deliver on? Where does the business want to be in 2 & 5 years’ time? How does this role specifically contribute to that success?

Cultural training – what are the values and behaviours embraced in the business? What are some observable behaviours and examples that can be shared?

Inclusive training – how does the organisation value and address diversity and inclusion? Demonstrate how this is more than 'just words on a page'.

Political training – how are decisions made in the business? Do frontline workers meet with the CEO? Give examples to help the new hire understand the operating rhythm of the business.

4. Help them pick the low hanging fruit

Success breed success, so it makes sense to help the new hire to get some early runs on the board. New employees either try to take on too much or they become overwhelmed and don’t manage to hit any early milestones. Managers should look for ways to build confidence early in a way that is consistent with the culture. For example, if a new salesperson appears ‘too aggressive’ in their hunt for sales, they may lose customers and get other sales people off side.

5. Don’t forget to navigate

The new hire should always be in the driver’s seat, but the manager’s role is to help navigate the road ahead. Sometimes, new hires are just left to figure out the expectations and what success looks like. It is important for managers to:

• Outline the goals and expectations, ensuring there is opportunity for clarification
• Explain how success will be measured and what support mechanisms are in place
• Highlight the main priorities of the position
• Share the key stakeholder’s details and how the broader team can be leveraged
• Discuss potential hurdles and brainstorm solutions
• Ditch the ‘sink or swim’ mentality and swap it for ‘we are in this together’
• Ensure that the employee has regular ‘pit stops’ where they are encouraged to check in and share successes as well as concerns

It is worth the investment

Changing jobs is highly rated on the stress metre and despite everyone’s best intentions; can sometimes result in new hires questioning their decision to come on board. But when the hiring manager adopts a partnership approach, they not only increase the chances of retention, but they also positively boost their leadership brand.

Just like a candidate, the manager is on their best behaviour in the interview process and is busy sharing the ‘highlight reel’ of what life in the organisation would look like. It is common to oversell the training opportunities or to talk up the workplace culture. Your business may be everything that you are describing, but be careful that the new hire is not left alone to contemplate if they made a mistake joining your organisation. 

Remember, while you are busy focusing on the new employee's performance, they are evaluating the business and may just come to the conclusion the 'greener pasture' they thought they choose is not the job they signed up for.

Further information

Ai Group has experienced HR consultants who can partner with your business to devise an onboarding program designed to increase new hire success. Ai Group also offers a range of extensive training courses to support leaders on their development journey. For assistance with your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information.

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Georgina Pacor

Georgina is Senior HR Content Editor – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 25 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.