Building Better Teams: The Art of Effective Onboarding

Perhaps no business process is as undervalued and untapped as the onboarding of new team members.

Instead of using this precious opportunity to win the hearts and minds of new employees, most organizations use onboarding simply as a chance to drown newbies in policies, materials, and information that’s soon forgotten.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A solid onboarding process can make sure new team members feel like a valued part of the group, right from Day One.

At Ferguson Alliance, our years of family business experience have shown us key concepts that can make the onboarding process smoother, more engaging, and ultimately, more successful for everyone involved.

And we want to share them with you – here goes.

Clear Communication is Key

First things first: let’s talk about communication.

It’s the cornerstone of any successful team, and it begins with clarity.

It’s essential that all team members understand the roles and responsibilities of the new employee.

Reassure them that the new person is not a threat. They’re not there to take anybody’s job. They’re there to add value for the organization.

Without this kind of clarity, effective communication becomes challenging, and productivity may suffer.

Plus – your new team member can end up feeling confused and unsure of what they’ve signed on for.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Before your new hire ever sets foot in the office, make sure you have a plan in place.

Create an onboarding schedule.

Get your team together to brainstorm how you’ll introduce them to the ins and outs of the company.

This includes setting expectations for how the current team will support your newbie throughout the onboarding process.

Consider having some of your seasoned pros do a mock onboarding session.

It’ll help them empathize and offer valuable insights as they give each other feedback on what they found helpful as new employees.

Above all, make sure everyone on the team understands the importance of making your new employee feel welcome and like they’re where they belong. We all know how hard it can be to be the “new kid at school.”

Let Them Shine

Encourage the new member to share their background with the team.

It’s like a mini ice-breaker session, but with a purpose.

It will help everyone understand where the new person is coming from and the unique skills and superpowers they bring to the team.

You can facilitate the conversation, but let your new team member be the star, fielding questions about their particular expertise.

Show, Don’t Tell

Visual aids can be a game-changer.

Think about it – newbies are bombarded with information left, right and center.

They’re taking in a lot of information at once, and it’s all foreign to them.

Try creating some visuals – org charts, process diagrams, you name it – to help them wrap their heads around everything.

Keep the Conversation Flowing

Check in regularly with your new team member.

Ask them how they’re doing, if they have any questions, or if there’s anything they’re struggling to understand.

Ask them to share with you their understanding so far.

Make sure they feel comfortable asking questions – and show them you’re excited to answer them. In other words, reward their curiosity.

Remember, the more comfortable your new team member feels, the more they’ll get out of the onboarding experience.

By modeling openness and accessibility, you can create an environment where team members, no matter how new, feel comfortable asking questions and seeking support.

Schedule weekly debriefs for the first couple of months to chat about how things are going and any areas for improvement. It’s all about keeping the lines of communication wide open.

And pro tip: those weekly check-ins? They’re not just for the onboarding period – they’re a crucial part of creating an environment where feedback flows freely. Continue them long after the onboarding period is over.

Getting Down to Business

When it comes to job-specific training, timing is everything.

While there are certainly role-specific tasks your new team member will need to learn, it’s important that they first buy into the culture and values of your organization.

We recommend that their first 30 days should be all about getting to know the company and its people. Then, gradually introduce job training as your new person settles in.

Effective onboarding is more than just a checklist – it’s a long-term strategic process aimed at integrating new employees seamlessly into your organization.

By prioritizing communication, learning, and ongoing support, you can lay the groundwork for long-term success and employee engagement.

Remember that actions speak louder than words.

Make sure your actions align with the culture you want to create.

If you say you’re all about open communication, then walk the talk. Make time for your team and show them you’re invested in their success.

Create an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and ready to hit the ground running.

Would you like some help with onboarding strategy or team management?

Book a Call with one of our friendly family business advisors.

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