Companies spend a staggering amount of time and money recruiting, screening, and hiring great people.  This isn’t a new trend, or even a particularly surprising one.  It’s well understood that good companies make the leap to greatness through engaging the right talent with a compelling vision.  What’s surprising is how many organizations think their job is done once their superstar is sitting at their desk on day one.

No matter how talented they are, no matter how carefully you’ve checked their references, or how thoroughly you’ve vetted their credentials, the first day is a steep learning curve for a new hire. The key to getting off on the right foot is a structured onboarding process. Whether you’re leading your own team, or if you’re responsible for the results of multiple groups that roll up under your supervision, developing a smooth process to help orient and acclimate new people to the organization is key.

Performance management is all about what happens once you land great talent.  It’s about supporting and engaging a smart, skilled, qualified person throughout their tenure, and ideally making that relationship as productive and long lasting as possible.

So what are the key components to successfully integrating and supporting the great people you hired? It’s actually pretty simple and comes down to two main ideas:

  1. Setting Clear Expectations – Most people come into a new job wanting to be successful but without clear goals and expectations, they might have to guess what’s most important. The very first thing every new employee should get is a clear understanding of what’s expected of them from a performance perspective.
  2. Consistent Feedback – Particularly in the first 90 days, feedback is critical to the success of a new hire. While new relationships are forming between team members and managers, it’s important to schedule time each week to check in and see whether things are still on track.  This feedback process is a two-way street – the new hire needs to be able to share their experience and ask questions, and the manager needs to share information and small changes to keep the onboarding process on track.

Each organization has a unique culture, and a set of unwritten rules and expectations that employees learn over time. For startups and small, fast-growing organizations, that culture is often entrepreneurial, and rewards those who take initiative and try new things. However, for a highly process-driven or regulated organization, those same behaviors might be completely unacceptable. The goal of a healthy onboarding process is to minimize the time it takes for new employees to understand and become comfortable with the culture of the team they are on, and the organization as a whole.

High performing companies are actively developing and propagating their culture throughout the daily activities of the organization. The key to successfully transitioning a new recruit to a fully-engaged member of the team lies in establishing a strong culture in your organization, and helping new hires make the transition into the team as smoothly as possible.

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