Starting a new job can be equal parts exciting and stressful.
You might wonder whether you made the right decision, if the nice people you met during your interview truly are nice people, and how on earth you’re going to learn everything you need to do your job effectively.
On the employer’s side of the table, however, there may not be as much thought going on when it comes to bringing in new team members – and the numbers prove it. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report from 2017, only 12 percent of employees strongly agreed that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. In other words, there’s plenty of room for improvement!
So what can both parties do to improve those crucial first few weeks on the job? In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, we looked to ID Plans CRO Seth Garber for some guidance. Here’s what he had to say.
Overall, do you think companies are paying enough attention to the onboarding process?
SG: Every company has their own approach. Some do a good job in onboarding. Some think they just hire someone and that’s the end of it. A lot of mid-sized companies who are experiencing growth have a hard time because everyone is focused on their core responsibilities and they don’t necessarily have the time to spend with the new employees. There can also be gaps in small companies because they don’t have a dedicated HR team that’s focused on a formal onboarding process. Then it becomes up to the rest of the team to bring the new person along, and it’s a mixed bag on how that will go.
One thing I do think all companies understand is that hiring top talent is very expensive. And if you end up having turnover because you either didn’t hire the right person or start them off right, the cost is even higher.
What does ID Plans do to set up a new employee for success?
SG: I think we’ve got a really good onboarding process for a company our size, and it actually starts before we even hire someone. We take our time with the interview process because we want to make sure we get the right person, and we’re very transparent about what our expectations are.
Walk me through the process.
SG: Our goal is to help our new people become productive as quickly as possible so we do a lot on the front end. For example, prior to their first day, we’ll provide them with all their HR forms so they can fill them out and send them back to us before they start. We also make sure they’re all set with their work stations and their computers and login information. Speaking of computers, we give our team members a choice of which technology to use – do they want a Mac or a PC? We want to make them comfortable from day one.
Aside from the logistics, what else does onboarding entail?
SG: The first thing we do is spend a few days helping the new person understand the company. It’s our 20th anniversary this year so our culture and our history are really important. We’ve seen a true evolution of our product and it’s important for the new team member to understand it because many of our customers have been around a long time and they’ve seen the evolution for themselves. We want everyone on the same page.
Next, we focus on getting them up to speed on understanding the landscape of the company, the internal communication structure, and the purpose of each department. We also spend a lot of time on product proficiency. We have an initiative in place that everyone, regardless of whether they’re in sales or not, can do a demo of our products.
We also define very specific projects for them over their first 60-90 days because we want them to buy into their own success. And we put them on a regular meeting schedule with their team leaders. Personally, I like getting regular feedback and ideas from my new team members, and I always try to take at least one of their ideas and implement it. That way, they feel integrated and invested into our culture.
Let’s shift to the new employee. What can they do to start off on the right foot?
SG: It’s interesting. People prepare for an interview and research their new company, but once they get the job, many of them stop preparing. I want to see them keep going. Before they start, if they have the time, I’d like them to reach out and ask questions. Ask about our tech stack. See if there are training videos they can watch. Start to learn about our customer personas. From an HR standpoint, we can’t mandate any of this, but it is nice to see someone take that extra initiative before they start.
Once they actually start, what should the new person be doing to make a good impression?
SG: It’s critical to start developing good communication with your team leader right off the bat and set up a schedule where you’re talking on a regular basis. A lot of times, someone will get into their role and they stop communicating with their manager and then they can run into trouble. If I were new in a midlevel position and trying to figure out how I was doing, I’d probably offer to take my manager out to lunch on my dime so we could have a more open discussion.
As a manager, I also love to see team members doing their research on the industry and on our competition and then coming to me with ideas. In the first 90-120 days, you really have to be obsessed with what you do to lay the groundwork for success. Get in the habit of being curious. It’ll take you far.
Finally, how do you demonstrate enthusiasm in a new role without looking like a brownnoser?
SG: I think it’s culturally driven by the company and depends on your leader. In a culture where people have to do it to get ahead, it’s probably fine. However, it can create resentment and hurt your career if you’re part of a smaller team, or if your company is driven by servant leadership. Unfortunately, in reality, sometimes the loudest person is who wins. In our sales organization, it’s beneficial to have a competitive side, but as soon as it crosses the line and becomes “I’m more important than my team,” then you have a problem.
What are your best tips for being successful at a new job? Send us an email and let us know. You could be featured in our next blog post.
ID Plans has been a game-changer in the commercial real estate tech industry since 1999, and the software solutions we provide help property managers, brokers and investors run their businesses more efficiently. For a demo of our products, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.