Hiring Managers play a significant role in new hire success.  While it may be intuitive and a no-brainer for the hiring manager to lead the new hire integration process, many consider that onboarding is an HR and IT issue.  Of course, the basics – like documentation, compliance training, office set up, and equipment – are outside the sphere of the hiring manager’s specific responsibilities, they still are the prime determinants of a new hire’s initiation and integration.

The work of the hiring manager starts way before the new hire shows up at the company doorstep. The process of new employee initiation and integration should begin way before posting a job requisition and does not end until way after the employee is on board.

Remember, people leave their managers most of the time, not necessarily the jobs.  Companies pay a steep price for employee turnover.  Work Institute estimates one in four employees will quit their job and it will result in $600 billion in turnover costs.

Hiring Managers’ Role in New Hire Success:

Here are ways the hiring manager should set up a new hire for success in their job.

Go Beyond a Basic Job Description:

A job description – such as role, responsibilities, and success metrics, as well as prospective employee qualifications – education and experience – are table stakes in the hiring game.

A good hiring manager implicitly or explicitly takes stock of the existing team and profile the job and the prospective candidate.  What is the composition of the team – not just who they are, but what they bring to the table and how they work? For example, if the unit is full of Type A, gung ho cowboys (and cowgirls), there may be a need to temper it with a thoughtful and analytics person.  If the team has become stale and risk-averse, an innovator and a risk-taker may supplement and complement the team.

Evaluating the profile, you will need to fill a role that helps you bridge the gaps in your team. Of course, profiling the new hire does not mean you close to doors to other types of candidates or come in with an implicit bias on who you want to hire.

The process will give you an understanding of your current teams strengths and areas of improvement and who might not only counterbalance but add that missing ingredient to become even more efficient and effective.

Think from the New Hire Shoes:

Each of us has been in that position – a new hire trying to navigate our way through a new job. So, it would help if the hiring manager can think from the shoes of a new hire as to what she/he will need to make it through the initial phase.

Whether it is providing them with an org chart or simple pointers like where to park, eat, and take a break will be helpful.

How does the new hire fit into the corporate culture? What is the best way to convey the essence of that culture and how to help them deal with the cultural compatibility issues?

More importantly, a briefing on the job contents and how your specific company works will be an excellent primer on day one.

Of course, there are differences in the new hires – from fresh onboard campus hires to grizzled veterans.  Nonetheless, each of them faces different challenges.

Set Clear Expectations:

By the time a new hire comes on board, the interview process, the job description is nothing but a blur.  Even if they remember, the initial dance was all about evaluating fit. Now the rubber meets the road, and you have to get things done.

Setting clear expectations will position your new employee on a path to success. For example, what are the primary responsibilities, which projects are a priority, whom to go to when in doubt, what decisions the new hire can make, and how does the firm evaluate the performance?

Typically, a new employee is all gung-ho and rearing to go. Providing them with the right context and a get things done frame of mind, will unleash positive energy and momentum.

Help the New Hires in Learning:

New Hire Success - On the job learningThe reason the new hire was hired in the first place was that they have specific skills and competencies that are essential to the job description. So, an engineer will have the engineering skills. A financial analyst will possess finance domain knowledge.

However, learning is more about the specific and unique aspects of the role in your company.  For example, your accounts payable process may be different. Or how you triage and resolve customer complaints.  In any case, contextual knowledge is vital to instill.

And in other cases, while the new employee may have the functional skills, they may not have the industry/sector knowledge. Yes, an accountant is an accountant, but the job content of what an accountant does within the context of a financial services company (which mostly trades in intangibles) to a similar position in a freight forwarding company (where international conventions come into play) is different.

Other things are not about the job itself but how to get the job done.  What collaboration tools do you use and how to use them.  What is the document repository to peruse to learn the background of specific projects?

And there are slightly more tricky ones. For example, if a person is coming from a previous workplace where Macs were the norm, and now you are a PC (Windows) company, then switching over is not a cakewalk.

If your company is large enough, there will be initial onboarding days, but they are mostly about the HR processes, legal/compliance matters, and IT provisioning.   The specific job-related learning is still the responsibility of the hiring manager/supervisor.

Empower the New Hire:

Irrespective of the level of the new employee, there will be things that they should have the power to decide. Of course, a junior associate will have fewer decision powers than an executive level hire.  However, clarity of what is within the purview of their decision-making help all the stakeholders.  The empowerment is both about showing confidence in the new hire but also delegating the task and assigning accountability.

In addition to empowering the new hire, a manager also has to set the appropriate guardrails so as not to derail the operation.

An important part of empowerment is the delegation of decision powers – whatever extent they may be – and the ability to make mistakes within the guidelines and guardrails.

Integrate with the Team:

Integrating with the team goes beyond the HR Buddy system and an initial introduction to all the team members.

A simple team chart (not a true org chart but similar in concept) with names, titles, and roles will help the new hire picture the landscape.  A briefing about each of the team members with some color commentary will also familiarize the new hire with the personalities.

Similarly, briefing the team about the new hire and how she/he is going to do and what you expect from the group is a critical step in integration.

From ongoing team activities to short rotations within each of the sub-teams will help the integration process.

Help with Navigating the Company Landscape:

The size, structure, and complexity of a particular company and the level at which the person is joining determine the magnitude of this task.   In a small company, walking the floor and introducing the people, places, and processes may be a 20-minute job.

In a large firm with a global footprint, the navigation gets complicated and convoluted.  From the corporate structure to the information power structures, helping the new hire understand the landscape is a critical endeavor.

Pave the Way for Stakeholder Relationships:

Every team member in a corporate setting has to deal with many stakeholders.  The relative influence and impact of a particular stakeholder vary.  There may also be informal power centers and power brokers.  So, it is not as simple as saying, “John, Jill, Janelle, and Jamal” are our stakeholders.  It is about the stakeholder disposition and power to sway things.

A supervisor should take the primary responsibility in sharing this information, even though the other coworkers may share similar information, but colored by their own experience.

Position the New Hire for Quick Wins:

Even though career is a marathon, not a sprint, it helps a new hire’s confidence and commitment to get a quick win.  A supervisor/manager can help position the new hire for immediate win situations.

Any win will help boost the morale of the new hire and motivate them to do even better.  The wins can be simple but a) it must indeed be a win and b) the new employee must feel that their contributions made the difference.

Celebrate Successes:

Celebrating successes is an acknowledgment of the contributions of the new hire. The achievements may not be momentous but every small win matters early in the new hire’s tenure in a company.

The celebration need not be significant – you don’t need a steak dinner and champagne corks to pop to celebrate an occasion.  A small piece of corporate schwag, an acknowledgment in the staff meeting, a quick brown bag lunch, or a card – any of these simple gestures will go a long way in building the morale and confidence of the new hire.

Be there when Spirits are Down:

Any new hires path is not all celebrations and successes. They will hit obstacles and moments of doubt. Assuming the new hire is not a wrong hire, the manager is a critical person to act as a buffer and alleviate the situation.  The quick help and support diminish the likelihood of a negative spiral.

The manager should resist the urge to step in and help unless it is essential.  The key is to listen, empathize and brainstorm solutions, not to step in and put the foot down on behalf of the new hire.

Yes, anyone can be a manager in the title. But to be an effective manager and be able to integrate new hires successfully takes effort. A new hire success is a critical part of a manager’s responsibility. But the rewards will be well worth the effort.




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