The success or growth of any organization depends largely on the strength of its staff. An organization can boast a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, magnificent edifices, and all of the best systems, but it takes a quality staff to complement the operation of these systems.
It’s against this backdrop that Human Resource departments of many organizations attach a lot of importance to the quality of the personnel that are onboarded to a company. When new recruits join an organization, it’s expected that they bring solutions and not problems to the organization. The realization of the full potential of these new recruits in an organization is largely dependent on the onboarding and subsequent mentoring that they receive upon entering the firm. This stage of the employee’s life in the organization is very crucial, as this is when they are introduced to the organization’s culture, norms, and rules of engagement.
Onboarding is the process of taking newly recruited employees through an organization’s culture, systems, and procedures of working. The first port of call for any employee during onboarding is the Human Resources department. There, the employee should be given a general overview of the systems, procedures, and management structure of the organization. This is mostly done through an orientation program organized by the Human Resource department. Once this stage is over, the next step would be to assign the employee to a department head, who would, in turn, assign new staff members to an experienced staff member for the next stage of the onboarding process. The department head should also ensure that said staff member’s job description is clearly spelled out and explained to them to avoid the possibility of having overlapping roles with another department.
The next stage is the second and the most critical aspect of the onboarding process. This is where the new recruit is made to shadow their coach (usually an experienced staff member assigned to them), who will carefully walk them through the process of learning on the job. Effective supervision from the department head and Human Resource department is needed at this stage to ensure the coaching process reflects the values and procedures of the organization. There have been instances where new staff members assigned to experienced staff members in a company have been wrongly indoctrinated and radicalized to engage in practices that are inimical to the interests of the organization.
In many organizations, on-the-job training can last up to three months, depending on the nature of the role and the policy of the organization. During this period, a lot of simulation exercises are necessary to test the readiness of the new staff member to be on their own. Companies shouldn’t be in a hurry to let new staff be on their own until they are convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that they can perform certain tasks well under minimal supervision. History is replete with instances of corporate organizations that have unfortunately folded due to mistakes committed by inexperienced staff members that were entrusted with big-ticket transactions. Many other companies, who may see this as a means of getting cheap labor, have also suffered a similar fate, paying a heavy price for their actions and inactions.
After a reasonable period of time, the shadowing staff member should be able to work independently on their own with minimal supervision. Even at this stage, it’s still important for a remote coach and mentor to be available to continuously provide necessary feedback where need be. The development of every staff member in an institution starts from this stage in the organization. Top CEOs and other corporate executives who’ve risen to the top of the hierarchy may have gotten their breakthrough at this early stage in the organization, hence their meteoric rise. Others who unfortunately fell off at some point in the organization can also trace their misfortune to that beginning stage of their life in the organization.
Back at the HR department, each time a newly recruited staff member has completed the onboarding process; it is necessary for the HR department, the new staff member, and the coach assigned to them to have a meeting. In this meeting, each party would be expected to sign off on a checklist of activities that were supposed to be performed during the period under review. This checklist is typically kept in the employee’s file for reference during their future performance evaluations. This meeting and the subsequent completion of the checklist would also afford the HR team and the department head the opportunity to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the said staff member and then suggest possible remedial measures.
Having successfully ushered the new staff member into a semi-autonomous state by way of completing onboarding, other activities that can be carried out regularly to hone their skills include refresher courses to keep them abreast with evolving industry practices as well as organizing periodic mock exams to test their retentive abilities and knowledge. In some institutions, these exams often result in rewards or punitive measures; brilliant employees who excel are incentivized by HR to continue doing so and the ones trailing behind are given appropriate remedial measures to improve their performance. Peer-review mechanisms can also be utilized to assess performance among new entrants in an organization. This system allows staff members of the same level to compare notes in whatever work they do and correct each other if need be. It has proven to be an effective system in the post-onboarding management of new staff members. Having these like-minded new entrants evaluate each other takes advantage of the rapport and camaraderie between them so they can compare notes, learn from one another, and support each other. This mode of learning from each other on the job is relatively much easier for them compared to the straight-and-narrow way of learning from their superiors, who, in most instances, can be a bit difficult to relate to.
Finally, a special reward system should be institutionalized by HR to incentivize these new recruits. This could include a special shout-out during staff meetings for a job well done, cash rewards, and, in some few instances, a promotion when the staff member in question exhibits exceptional capabilities and is worthy of it.
Phidelia Johnson is a global Human Resources Practitioner with eighteen years of leadership success. With a focus on streamlining Human Resources administration, she’s well-equipped to find the right solution to a myriad of concerns. Her experience as a commercial business leader gives her a unique ability to advocate for both the employer and the employee.
In her down time, Phidelia is a master of her kitchen, creating wonderful dishes filled with passion and flavor. If she’s not cooking delicious food, she’s stretched out with a good book. She hopes to use her experience to help others, guide company leaders to best practices, and help build better professionals and stronger organizations.