In an ideal world, every organization would have a thorough and well-executed onboarding process in place. Every new employee would feel enthusiastically welcomed into their new team. Every new hire would receive plenty of training and knowledge to set them up for success from day one. If we lived and worked in an ideal world, the onboarding process would be a beautiful, smooth start to a long and prosperous relationship. Unfortunately, this dream is all too often far from reality.
Regrettably, many individuals have experienced first-hand the less-than-ideal onboarding process in place at too many organizations. (If an anemic onboarding process is present in your organization, we highly recommend getting help with this problem.) If you find yourself having been hired by any organization, I would like to offer you one fundamental tip that will help you properly assimilate yourself to your new work responsibilities and environment.
THE BEST TIP FOR ONBOARDING YOURSELF: Set appointments in order to gain clarity.
Even if there isn’t a structured process in place, your new employer will surely allow you time to settle in and “learn the ropes.” During this time, I recommend taking initiative instead of waiting for someone else to step in and help you. Schedule a series of appointments and ask a lot of questions for the purpose of gaining clarity about your new role. By doing this, you will go far in establishing a firm foundation for success.
Your First Appointment Should Outline Your Boss’s Expectations
Beyond an introduction and a 10-minute welcome chat, you will want to schedule time for a lengthy conversation with the person you report to. During this important meeting, you will want to pinpoint exactly what they expect from you.
Specifically, find out their expectations for your first week, first month, and first 90 days. This way, you will know exactly what is expected of you, and you will avoid some anxiety that may have come with unclear expectations.
Your Next Appointments Should Provide Feedback
Now that you’ve been given clear expectations, you want to be sure you’re meeting those expectations properly. After the first couple weeks on the job, you will want to get constructive feedback on your activity and progress so far. Your boss should be able to tell you what is going right, and what should be corrected. The more you know about what you’re getting right, the shorter the learning curve, and the faster you’ll see success.
These feedback sessions should be in the form of an open dialogue about how you’re measuring up to the expectations that have been set for you. Don’t be afraid to probe deep enough to be sure you’re heading in the right direction, and don’t get defensive when you hear constructive criticism.
Your Follow-Up Appointments Should Address Any Misalignment
Once you get fairly settled in to your new position, you may start to notice some aspects of your job that are not in alignment with what you were told during the interview process. You will want to address these issues so that you can gain clarity on what is expected of you and what you can expect from the job.
This process can be uncomfortable for some people, so I recommend following this basic format: “This is what I heard in the interview process. That’s not what I’m experiencing. Help me understand what is right.”
Additionally, once you’ve been in your position for some time it is a good idea to discuss any misalignment between you and your boss. If you simply don’t feel a natural connection to your superior, you’ll want to take the initiative to find out more about his or her preferences when it comes to communication and leading. The more you know about each other and about each other’s work style, the better you can relate to one another and work as an effective team.
Poor Onboarding Leads to Turnover
Organizations that don’t invest time and effort in the onboarding process will typically experience greater turnover than those who do. Those first few days and weeks of a new hire’s employment can determine the rate of, and potential for success. Having said that, if you find yourself working for a company that is not prepared to properly assimilate you, don’t let that limit your potential. Take it upon yourself to set appointments for the purpose of gaining clarity. Your intentional quest for clear expectations and well-defined outcomes can turn your new job into a successful career!