GUEST POST: Three keys to maximizing your onboarding success

Today we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It’s Holly DePalma. Holly is Director, HR Services at MidAtlantic Employers’ Association, a single source for HR services, delivering responsive, practical solutions to its members.

(Want to guest blog on an employment-law topic at The Employer Handbook? Email me).

* * *

Each and every hire in small to mid-sized business is enormously important to business success. Thus, you’ve invested significant resources searching for the right person, and congratulations – you’ve found them! It’s a great feeling to have successfully hired someone who you believe to be a potential high performer. And you should feel good because hiring right in today’s economy is hard. But it’s not time to relax just yet.

You put so much time into hiring that person you want him or her to start working now, right? Wrong. Employee on-boarding is a pivotal component of talent acquisition that often goes under-emphasized.

On-boarding is an important aspect of setting the stage for employee success. And by employee on-boarding I am not referring to the first few hours of a new hire’s day where he or she fills out the necessary paperwork. Some organizations proudly define their new employee orientation as “a day with the HR administrator” where they review the handbook, get an employee signature for the file, address housekeeping issues, and sufficiently bore the heck out of their new hire.

I’m not saying it isn’t necessary or important, but calling paperwork on-boarding is just awfully limiting. Truly effective on-boarding needs to be so much more than just a day; it needs to be a process – a process that serves to properly engage a new hire and position him or her for future success through goal setting, coaching and mentoring.


In order to create an environment where employees are objectively managed to outcomes, goal setting is a necessary objective. Goal setting should be done once an employee has been trained to perform his or her job. Goal setting is appropriate for all levels of positions – from receptionist, to Director of Manufacturing. Yes, goals may differ, but the process you use to set these goals should be consistent. This process should be a collaboration between the manager and the employee. Goals should be set as appropriate for the position (daily, weekly, monthly or a combination of all three) and be tied to business objectives. But once goals are agreed upon, the manager and employee should discuss them frequently, and keep them visible.


The perfect forum to discuss goals is in a weekly coaching session. We strongly recommend weekly check-in sessions between managers employees. The session is as formal as necessary, and as informal as possible to ensuring an effective session. Clear lines of communication are integral to the success of these sessions. Thus, we recommend an approach that is less “telling” and more “asking.” By that we mean, “Last week XYZ happened. What was your impression of that?” If there are issues or problems with an employee’s performance, this is an opportunity for the manager to directly address the issues and quickly course correct.


Of these three aspects of the on-boarding process, you might think mentoring is a “nice to have” rather than a “must have.” However, this is an extremely useful practice for several reasons. First, this is an opportunity for you to partner a new employee with an established employee who exemplifies stellar performance. Inherently this is a developmental opportunity for the established employee and at the least, is a simple way to recognize outstanding performance. It is also a great way to build a team atmosphere by partnering folks who may not have had the opportunity to work together. But most importantly it is a way for you to teach a new employee “how” to be successful at their new organization.

The moral of the story is as leaders in your organization, it’s never time to relax! Talent acquisition and development go hand and hand. After spending the necessary time and resources to hire the right person, you owe it to yourself, and your organization, to ensure this employee is connected to business goals, managed to objectives and is an engaged member of your team.

This post originally appeared on the MidAtlantic Employers’ Association website.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
Contact Information