Mastering Management: Hiring and Onboarding for Success

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This is the second article in our series "Mastering Management," where we explore ideas and techniques for improving management, leadership, hiring, and employee productivity in growing businesses.

When it comes to personnel, two of the trickiest aspects to manage successfully are hiring and onboarding. Hiring a bad candidate can be extremely costly to a company (some say it’s even worse than not hiring anyone at all) in terms of lost productivity, cost of training, and worker morale, so it’s important that growing companies establish procedures not only to hire the right people, but also to set them up for success. 

In companies that don’t have a dedicated HR team, it’s usually up to department managers or team leads to oversee these processes, which can add stress to an already heavy workload and ultimately result in lackluster recruitment or insufficient onboarding of new employees. By establishing guidelines and training managers on hiring and onboarding procedures, companies can reduce employee turnover and increase staff productivity. 

Set recruitment goals and standardize hiring procedures

The goal of every company is to get the right person in the job as quickly as possible. Sometimes in the effort to find someone quickly, business leaders lose sight of finding the right people. To prevent this, articulate clear recruitment goals that define the characteristics and values you want out of your workforce, and set hiring procedures that will help you achieve those goals. Some tips for successful hiring:

Hire for diversity. Workplace diversity, which includes both inherent diversity (demographic characteristics like race, gender, and age) and acquired diversity (factors like education, experience, and skills), is a key driver for innovation and growth. By committing to intentional diversity hiring practices, your company opens itself for the widest range of qualified candidates to choose from. Note that diversity hiring is not the practice of hiring for the sake of diversity, but rather the identification and removal of potential biases in the hiring process that might prevent qualified candidates from applying or moving forward.

Refine screening processes to reduce bias. Research shows that many hiring managers unconsciously bring their own biases into the screening and interviewing processes that may prevent them shortlisting the right candidate. Companies can actively reduce bias and bring more diversity into the shortlist by actively implementing policies such as blind screening, which removes demographic identifying factors in resumes such as names, addresses, and universities from the resume.

Use structured interviews for fair candidate evaluation. Structured interviews are simply a set of questions asked of every candidate and graded on a standardized rubic. Following years of research, Google has determined that structured interviews are the best predictor of future job performance, more so than any other type of interview (including their own infamous brainteaser questions). To create your own structured interview for your company, check out Google’s re:Work guide.

Develop a structured onboarding program for new employees

Even if your company invests significant time and resources to recruit the right employees, it can all go to waste if you don’t take the time to properly onboard your new hires. Reports show that on average 25% of employees leave a job within the first 90 days, but when they go through a structured onboarding process, they are 58% more likely to remain with the organization after three years.

Onboarding encompasses more than just a simple orientation. It also entails the process of welcoming your new employee to the organization, establishing expectations for the role, and providing crucial feedback in the early days. Some tips for successful onboarding:

Create a memorable and welcoming first day. There’s nothing more disorienting to new employees than arriving to work and not having anyone to greet them or show them to their new desk. Make sure things like the computer and company email are set up and ready to go, and give a proper tour of the office and building. Ensure that company policies are articulated and assign a set of achievable tasks that they can accomplish without feeling overwhelmed, such as updating contact info or setting up profiles on software platforms. 

Lay out what the position entails. During the first few weeks, direct managers should have consistent one-on-ones with their new employees to articulate their roles and responsibilities, as well as outline day-to-day expectations for the job. This helps employees understand the bigger picture of what the company is trying to achieve and keeps their work aligned to meet company goals. Using past case studies as examples of what a successful project or outcome looks like can be enormously helpful in bringing employees up to speed.

Set 30-, 60-, and 90-day assessments. Schedule planned check-ins with your new employees at the 30/60/90-day marks. Ensure that employees are feeling more and more comfortable in the role, and offer productive feedback as to whether or not they are meeting expectations. This is also a chance for employees to ask questions and clarify aspects of their job that may not yet be clear.

Make direct supervisors or managers responsible for their new hires. The success of your new employees will depend highly on the support and helpfulness of their managers during this training period. As a business owner, don’t allow your managers to slack on this responsibility—ensure that delegation is clear and lines of communication stay open among employees.