How Do I Onboard Someone Into My Team?

Jon Windust

The basics

Be there for the new team member. Introduce them to the right people. Have all the resources in place. Everyone has horror stories about arriving on their first day and not having a desk, computer, phone, manager or clue on what to do next. Don’t be a horror story.

HR will take care of the induction process, forms and compliance (more on making that easier for HR, you and your new team member here).

Where you really want to be

As a leader you need to make two things happen. The first is get the new team member up to speed and contributing as quickly as possible. The second is to integrate the new person into the team socially. It can takes months for a person to fully integrate socially. Getting up to speed can take even longer. Both will impact performance.

Social integration doesn’t mean team activities. They are helpful and fun but in the end only have a minor impact. For social integration you need:

1. A sense of togetherness.
2. The development of trust.
3. Learning the explicit and tacit ways the team operates.

Togetherness is achieved by having shared beliefs. Your vision, purpose and goals are a big part of this. They can’t be one-off statements, they have to be something real that the team are living.

Development of trust happens through positive interactions. Personable relationships also help create trust. Get to know people.

Learning the tacit rules for a team can only happen through doing and experiencing.

Explicit rules are embodied in things like values – having these in your induction pack is one thing, but living, walking and talking them makes them work.

Getting a person up to speed is best done by doing. Shadowing, training and documentation all help. But the reality is that people don’t really start learning until they do something. The quicker that happens, the better. Start on a focussed subset of the job and then build this out as each component is learnt.

Some roles and people require hands-on teaching. Other roles and people are better suited to being provided with resources and then setting their own agenda.

Communicate regularly. Find out where you need to help. Remove any roadblocks.

An Exceptional Person Has Arrived On My Team. What Do I Do Next?

Jon Windust

“An exceptional person has arrived on my team. What do I do next?”

Talented people are few and far between. You have been blessed.

The first thing to know is that treating them well is not going to be enough. Talented people aren’t into coming to work, doing a job, going home and collecting a regular pay check on a repeat cycle. They don’t like doing the same thing each day and your company’s career development program for high potentials won’t make up for this.

Talented people are talented because they’ve stretched themselves, they’ve dedicated much of their time to learning and challenging themselves in greater and greater ways. This is not a one-off process. Your team and role is another step in this process for them. The best thing you can do is to help them continue this process and be part of it.

How do you do that? Stretch them with ideas that will move your group forward. Ideally let them come up with their own ideas and take maximum ownership. Much of the time a talented team member will get frustrated with the way things work. They aren’t complainers, that’s a different thing. They’ll come to you with ideas or suggest areas for improvement on existing processes. This isn’t to say let any idea go ahead, but equally don’t destroy your talent by being a roadblock.

But what about the regular day job? It easy to become engaged in new shiny projects and let the regular job slip. The answer here is to have KPIs, goals, measures or some form of expectations for the regular job. Talented people can self-manage given measures or expectations they own. And if they don’t, measures will help you re-align your team member.

A talented person won’t be with you forever, but you can help them in their journey and their legacy will leave a lasting influence.