Who you hire matters, but your onboarding process will also determine how successful your new team members are. Onboard the right way and you’ll form lasting relationships that will help your new business succeed. Take the wrong approach and you could end up losing your new hires after you’ve invested time, money and energy in training them.
Onboarding is important for any business, but it is absolutely essential for a startup. Since you won’t be fully established yet or have long-term employees to guide your new workers, you’ll rely heavily on the onboarding process to bring everyone together. These tips and ideas will help you onboard your team the right way for your new startup:
Expect roles to change
You may have hired someone for their graphic design skills, but when you discover they can also fix your router and is a master of memes for your social media channel, the role could shift. Once you get past the “a few of us around a small table” stage and need a real hierarchy, you may find your team dynamics and roles shift as well. Be ready and be agile and willing to change things up.
Begin onboarding early
Your job is not done when you select the winning candidate; you need to stay in touch, get all the paperwork out of the way and start creating an engaging and welcoming process. Set the right expectations — you’re a growing startup, not Zappos or Apple (yet) so the fun employee playroom might be just in the dream stages right now. The right candidates will understand and appreciate getting in on the ground floor and be willing to grow. Your onboarding process does not need to happen in a boardroom or even a static workplace, start where you are but stay in touch in the period between the hiring and the actual start date.
Work on a schedule
Will your new hires all be in the office all the time, or will you allow them to work from home? What does a typical day look like for each role and what does your new team member need to do their jobs effectively? Who gets office space, who gets the good office space and who shares the community zones in the middle. Your creative types may like hanging out in a central area, while your sales team may need a different spot for strategy sessions and calls.
whether you do some formal icebreaking events or activities or casually introduce your new hires to one another, make sure they have a chance to get to know one another. You don’t need to roll out an org chart, but being able to put names with faces and having the opportunity to meet in a low-pressure, social setting, helps everyone get integrated as a team member right from the start. If you are growing quickly, make sure the new hires get brought up to speed quickly, and that your existing employees get an idea of where the new employees fit in.
Create a device policy
In today’s digital world it is more important than ever to secure your network and data, particularly as a startup. Decide now what you’ll allow for devices—will you go BYOD, allowing employees to bring their own devices to use for work or will you provide your team with the tech they need? What about your cloud network and remote access? In the early stages, you may be relying on employees to use their own phones — but make sure you know how accessible your data is and what happens if a device is lost. This is the time to relay your policies about devices, passwords and more so new hires understand the best way to access and use data.
Make the first week an orientation
Focus solely on orientation the first week, allowing your new employees to ease into their roles and to take the time to meet everyone. Giving your startup employees a walk to their workstations or offices and a handful of papers just isn’t enough.
Go over everything, even the small stuff
Make sure you cover the entire workflow process – everyone on your team should know how information and projects are completed and which specific parts they are accountable for. Providing full information ensures that your new hire has everything they need to do their job in a busy, changing startup landscape.
Empower your team
You chose this team for a reason; make sure that you are providing them with the tools they need to succeed, then back off and let them have the autonomy they need to perform. While you do need to give a full picture of the company and the job at hand you also need to let the people you have chosen for your startup take ownership of the roles you have assigned to them.
Don’t stop engaging
Part of a successful onboarding process is communicating and engaging with your new hires; don’t stop when the official orientation is over. Staying in touch and keeping lines of communication open ensures your new hires feel like they are really a part of your team and ensures that they actually stick around long enough to benefit your organization.
Simply being aware that a startup is in a state of flux and that you may not have the same experience as a typical business can help you strike the right balance between setting rules and having flexibility when it comes to startup employees. Roles could shift as time progresses and you may find that some policies or workflow you started with no longer work for your organization. Remaining flexible and agile can help you keep the employees you’ve worked so hard to onboard.
Managing startup employees in the right way helps ensure that your team is here to stay and maximizes your ROI, too. Mistakes in the onboarding process can be costly; taking the time to consider your process and come up with a system that works can help you get your new team up and running in a flash and ensures everyone understands the roles they need to play to make the startup successful..
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