How to Make Sure Your New Employees Are Successful in Their First 90 Days

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Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been nearly three months since I joined Costanoa and it already feels like I’ve been a part of the family for a long time. I particularly admire the effort and consideration the team put in to set me up for success.

But the process of onboarding new employees doesn’t always lead to productive beginnings. After spending the bulk of my own professional career helping other companies integrate new hires into their ranks, I’ve seen many organizations do it right. But, unfortunately, I’ve also seen how they do it wrong. And given how the market for good talent is ultra-competitive — especially in Silicon Valley — there’s a price to pay for getting this wrong. Not only is it hard to find the right people but keeping them is an even harder task with the attrition rate in tech at record highs.

A thoughtful approach to onboarding new hires pays huge dividends in the long-term and it is up to organizations to ensure that they feel successful and empowered.

So let me share a few observations and tips to make sure your new employees are successful in their first 90 days.

First impressions matter.

Here’s a revealing stat from a survey of staffing and HR experts by Aberdeen group: 86% believe that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. Translation: Onboarding is too important to approach this in an ad-hoc manner.

Small touches make a difference.

After accepting the job to become an operating partner at Costanoa, I was touched by the many emails sent by team members sharing their excitement about my hire. Soon after, a welcome basket of Costanoa goodies — notebook, shirts, a hat and water bottle — and yes, chocolates! — was dropped at my front door.. Holy smokes! I was impressed. For smaller startups budget is always top of mind. Gestures like the welcome email or even a first day lunch for your incoming new hire goes a long way without having to break the bank on chotchkies.

Have a clear framework for success on day one but give the candidate space to shape it.

You never want to leave anyone to flounder when they’re brand new to the job, so make sure they have a framework to help them do their job effectively from the outset. Define clear goals and have the quarterly or yearly objectives laid out. Make sure your new hire knows what’s expected of them and what tools they have at their disposal to do their jobs. You’d be shocked how often that advice gets ignored. New employees want to do a good job right from the get-go but there’s always going to be a degree of trepidation. They want to impress but don’t know the company culture and need to learn the ropes. So, the more information they receive early on about next steps, the better off everyone will be.

When I walked into the office on my first day, for instance, there already were a couple of documents on my desk, outlining next steps to prioritize objectives for the first week, 30 days, 60 days and 90 days. Even though the plans weren’t set in stone, they still helped me plan out my near-term schedule.

Define a standard onboarding policy.

These are all the things you want to make sure get done systematically, no matter who is doing the hiring or managing. Policies can include things like:

  • Send out an email a couple of days before the new employee starts the job with relevant information on when to start, where to go, park, things to bring, etc.
  • Fill out new hire forms (benefits, taxes, payroll) ahead of time. It will save everyone time later on.
  • Send an announcement to the department or company, depending on your size, welcoming them to the group and encouraging the team to introduce themselves. This would typically come from the hiring manager or founder.
  • Have their desk, computer and network access, key cards and email set up ahead of time.
  • Walk them around the office and show where things are. Introduce them to their new teammates, who may have not been part of the interview process.
  • The hiring manager should set up monthly and quarterly check-ins to make sure that the process remains on track.
  • Get help from various teammates to get your new hire set up. It will help give them a different lens to view what others do within the company.

Sure, everyone at your organization is moving at warp factor 1 but new hires still need to get trained — and trained properly. There’s no single formula here, but by taking care of the boilerplate basics, you’ll do wonders to shorten your new hire’s transition from newbie status to pro status. In the process, you’ll lay the foundation for a productive relationship that benefits both your company and your employee.