Wednesday October 1, 2014
  • The Doug and Polly guide to employee onboarding

    rsz business man welcome

         Q.  I just hired my first employee. I want to make sure I get him off to a good start. Do you have any tips?

         A.  In any relationship, first impressions matter. The first few weeks of employment will set the tone for the months and years ahead. If you start well and gain a favorable first impression, it will pay huge dividends. The impact of a good first impression will be with you for years. Unfortunately, so will the impact of a poor first impression. 

    Food and fellowship before forms – On the first day, start with breakfast. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Donuts and coffee is sufficient. Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to break the ice and make a connection. Spend some time socializing and getting to know each other. You have probably only spoken with your new employee during the formal interview and negotiation process. It’s time to change the relationship. When you bring on additional employees, invite the team to share in the process of welcoming the newest member. Yes, he will need to fill out the I-9 and W-4. There may be insurance documents to fill out and manuals to read. These can wait until the afternoon or even the next day.

    Make time to set goals – You are a busy and successful entrepreneur otherwise, you wouldn’t be hiring staff. However, if you want to get this person productive quickly, you will need to invest in training. Most likely, this means that you’ll need to block out large chunks of time during the first few weeks to spend with your new employee. Your new hire probably brings some skills and experience to the table, but he doesn’t know how you want things done in your organization. You cannot expect your new charge to know what to do and how to do it unless you tell him. Set expectations and measurable goals. Develop a plan for the first week. Paint a picture for your new employee as to what you want him to learn and accomplish by the end of the first 30 days. Explain how you are going to help your new hire succeed.   

    Assign meaningful work – On day one your new employee may not be much help. In the beginning, he most likely will be a time sink rather than freeing you up to do work that is more productive. However, the quicker you can give your new hire meaningful work, the faster he will be able to take on some of the workload. Even if your new charge is entry level, he can make a meaningful difference right from the start. We believe that employees want to be recognized, contributing members of a winning team. Allow your new employee to contribute from day one. Set him up to succeed. Make a list of tasks that you want your new teammate to take on. Assign one or more very specific tasks that you believe he can perform well. When your new employee is successful, give positive feedback and thank him. You will be off to a great start.

    Set the stage – Finally, make sure that your new hire has all the tools he will need to be successful and a place to store personal things. Load your new employee’s computer with the right software and stock the desk with supplies. Have business cards or a nametag preprinted. Put the employee’s name on his locker. Anything you can do to show the new teammate how much he is welcome will help you to cement a relationship that will be positive and productive. You’ll be on your way to developing a loyal employee.

    It is easy to create a great first impression. However, once missed, you cannot get this opportunity back. These are simple tips that take little time and money, but can enrich your employment relationship for years to come. We wish you every success with your new teammate. 

I HIGHLY recommend Polly and Doug. They have wonderful insight to help small business owners prioritize and identify strategies for growth and improvement. Wish I had met them 20 years ago!

Sharon Madere
Premiere Pet Products

Doug and Polly, I want to thank both of you! The past few months have been enlightening and overwhelming all at the same time. Your guidance, direction, wealth of knowledge, and wisdom have exceeded all my expectations. No words could ever completely describe just how amazing of a “dynamic duo” you two really are!

Dawn Beninghove, RN, CCM, CRP, PN
Chief Executive Offer
Companion Extraordinaire Nursing Network, Inc.
My company brought Polly in as a business consultant resource to provide Professional Skills curriculum to our early and mid-career leaders. It was company leadership that brought her in - it was her success with our associates that continued to bring her back! Using her HR and corporate leadership experience and her ability to connect with people at various levels of the organization, Polly was one of the most effective outside leadership development resources I've come across in my Talent Management years. She was extremely reliable and someone that I could trust to provide solid learning experiences that aligned with our corporate value system and talent development goals.

Scot McCarthy
Director of Workforce Development, CENTRA Health
My team and I have had the privilege of working with Polly on our business. Polly's keen business insight and savvy is something special. She was honest, direct, and tactful about her observations and recommendations for our team and how to grow our business. It was a pleasure having her help us and I would tell anyone that’s serious about growing their business to call Polly. She’s great!

John OReilly
Managing Partner
Base Camp Realty of Richmond, Inc.
Doug White took on an unfocused operation (in the financial services sector) and created an efficient, centralized system dedicated to excellence.  He did this not by driving change from the top down, but by helping the entire team see how their part of the process could be improved. Doug then mentored us toward effecting the changes ourselves. He taught us all how to bring our “A game,” and how to take ownership and pride in what we do.

Donna Levin
Vice President of Operations
I have known Polly for over ten years. As an HR Manager, I have utilized Polly’s training expertise at my former company and with my current company. Polly exceled at assessing the needs of our management teams and tailoring training programs that resulted in visible positive change. I also know I can count on Polly as a resource on any HR topic or bounce ideas off of her when I need a second opinion. Polly has been a mentor to me and I have always appreciated her willingness to listen and offer valuable advice and expertise.

Leigh McCullar
HR Business Solutions Manager
Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Center
I have had the privilege of working with Polly White for several years on a variety of projects. She consistently provides clear direction on how to resolve a wide range of employment-related issues. I look forward to my continued relationship with Polly.

Elizabeth Wilkins
Business Manager
Manorhouse Management, Inc.
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