4 Things Every New Hire Must Do to Onboard Themselves

In today’s economy where workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers, joining a new organization can be thrilling. But transitioning to a new organization can be stressful if you’re left to “onboard” yourself and figure things out on your own.

Orientation vs. Onboarding

New hire orientation is different than onboarding. Orientation includes the tactical steps of introducing policies and procedures, receiving computers, completing forms, signing up for benefits, etc.

Onboarding consists of intentional actions that acclimate and integrate a new hire beyond administrative tasks. Helping new employees understand the organization’s culture, role expectations and critical relationships will accelerate their success.

Most Organizations Fall Short

Some organizations do an excellent job onboarding. Peer buddies, personalized welcome videos, branded merchandise and job shadowing are a few ways companies greet, engage and prepare new employees.

But most organizations lack strong onboarding programs. According to research from Gallup, only 12% of U.S. employees say their company does a good job of onboarding, and nearly one in five employees either report that their most recent onboarding was poor or that they received no onboarding at all.

4 Ways to Take Control of Your Onboarding

If your company has no onboarding program, focus your efforts on the activities that matter most: cultivating relationships, building trust and establishing credibility.

1. Connect with your boss ASAP. Your boss won’t have time to walk you through everything you need to know, but make it a priority to grab time on their calendar.

    • Review your role and clarify expectations so the two of you are on the same page.
    • Seek their advice on business priorities and who you should meet with first.
    • Determine their communication preferences and how frequently they want to be updated.

2. Be strategic about who you meet with and the questions you ask. After your boss, your team and peer colleagues should be next on your list to meet.

    • Tap into insights and experience by asking colleagues what they think are the biggest pain points, highest priorities and who else you should meet.
    • Understand each person’s role, what they are working on and their preferred working style.
    • Foster trust and deeper connections by taking an interest in their personal interests and who they are outside of work.

3. Look for small wins. A common trap for new leaders is to try to accomplish too much too soon. People are likely to resist big changes from a new hire who has yet to gain trust or credibility.

    • Aim for quick wins that reduce complexity or make peoples’ jobs easier.
    • Prioritize accomplishments that matter to your boss.
    • Keep in mind what worked well in your last organization won’t necessarily work in your new one.

4. Manage your first impression. Consider how you want to present yourself to coworkers as they create their first impressions of you.

    • Focus early interactions on asking questions, listening and gathering information.
    • Wait to offer feedback on what’s wrong and how to fix things. People will be much more receptive to your ideas in the future if you don’t come off as a negative know-it-all.

As the number of remote jobs increase, more employees will be left to onboard themselves. Whether virtual or in the office, taking the initiative to establish relationships, seek advice, ask questions and secure small wins will set any new hire up for success.

Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults.