You’ve officially hired an employee! Now what? Now comes the hard part – the onboarding process. Onboarding is the process human resources managers take when bringing a new employee into the company mix. This is your chance to make your employee feel welcome. It’s your chance to show your employee what is expected of him. And, it’s your chance to set your new hire up for success so he’s an asset to your team, instead of making his lack of experience a liability. The onboarding process is crucial when it comes to inspiring loyalty and retaining top talent. Here are seven steps to help you solidify an onboarding process that leads to employee success. #1. Hand Out the Employee Playbook If you don’t have an employee playbook yet, make one. This is a book that outlines what you expect from your employees and how they can accomplish those tasks (and beyond) in your firm. Before your employee comes on board – before he steps into your office on day one – hand him the playbook. By giving the employee playbook out before the first day of work, you set your employee up for success. From the minute he arrives, he’s equipped with knowledge about: Your company’s brand image; Your goals; Your expectations; Your definition of success; The steps and tools you use in your business to accomplish your goals and achieve success. By handing this out early, you leave no shadow of doubt of what you demand from your team. With this planted firmly in your employee’s mind, he’s better able to have a strong start in his new position. #2. Get the Paperwork Ready (and Help Your Employee Be Ready) Every new hire has to fill out paperwork. From setting up taxes to filling out insurance forms, you’ll need a lot of information from your new hire on day one. Get the paperwork organized and ready to go. More importantly, tell your employee what you’ll need from him so he’s ready to start. This way, you’re not wasting any time and can dedicate more time to getting your new hire into the groove of things. #3. Define Specific Goals Even though your employee knows what you expect, and even though he’s been given the direction he needs to start off strong, he still might not understand how he fits into the big picture. Show him how he can specifically contribute to the greater good of the company by defining specific goals from the start. On day one, talk to your employee about where you’d like to see him in 90-days. This will show him what you’ll be watching for as a manager. It’ll also help him know what his team expects from him from the get go. #4. Think Culturally Your office has it’s own unique culture. The way you dress, the way you start your workdays, the way you take breaks, and the way you juggle your schedule is unique to your team. When onboarding an employee, don’t assume he will fit in with this culture automatically. Although he might have the personality traits to mesh well with your other team members, he might not be aware of how you operate … yet. Make company culture a part of the discussion during the onboarding process. Talk about what break-times look like. Do you have casual Fridays where business casual attire is expected and jeans are frowned upon? Do you rotate who brings in coffee each Monday morning or do people put their noses to their desks as soon as they walk into the office? Do people eat in the break room together or do they usually head to one of the nearby restaurants? Do you use a special scheduling system when requesting days off? Talk to your employee about the culture in your office so he’s not caught off guard with the unspoken rules of the office and can seamlessly transition to be a strong team member. #5. Connect Him With Others Your new employee will likely be reporting to you but, during the day-to-day, he’ll probably be more in touch with others on your team. Help him get to know each person’s role by introducing him. Then, encourage them to forge new relationships by arranging a team lunch or happy hour after work on day one. The better you can spark those connections, the more likely your new team member will be able to mesh with others from the start. This can instantly trigger feelings of loyalty to your business, you as a manager, and your other employees. As a result, it’ll keep your new team member motivated to succeed. #6. Be Aware of Your Expectations Up until now, I’ve only discussed how to prepare your new employee for success. Your mindset matters too. When onboarding, be aware of your expectations. This is all new to your new employee (even if he’s experienced in your industry). Go easy on him at first so he feels like he’s set up for success rather than pressed to the limits from the start. Before he arrives in the office, take a minute to reflect on what you’re about to ask of him. Will you be overwhelming him or inspiring him? #7. Measure Your Success Like any new procedure in your business, it’s beneficial to measure your success with your onboarding process. This typically happens during the 90-day performance review. Was employee satisfaction high after 90-days? Did the new hire meet his 90-day goals? What could you have done differently to make the transition easier for your new employee? Answer these questions 90-days after each new hire comes on board. Use them to conduct a self-assessment so you can analyze the process and continue to improve it as needed. Engagement Starts Day One The bottom line is this: The earlier you can get your employee engaged in the company’s overall goals and incorporate him as part of your team, the faster you’ll see results. The key to your new hire’s success is to teach them about your company, connect them with your culture and other employees, and keep your expectations/goals in line with what’s realistic. Measure your ability to do this and keep iterating your onboarding process until you find what works for your company. Image: Hand writing Onboarding with blue marker on transparent wipe board isolated on white.