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5 Mistakes You’re Making During New Hire Onboarding

Feb 21, 2023

You’re ready for help and you need it fast. You should just be able to find a qualified candidate and bring them on board in a few days, right?

… no.

There’s no such thing as a “unicorn” when it comes to hiring. Making the decision to grow your team and your business is exciting, sure. But to find the right person, you’ll have to leave all your preconceived notions at the door.

Getting “butts in seats” is easy. Hiring the right help takes intention and patience…on your end. 

But where most people get tripped up? The onboarding process. They throw their new hire right into the middle of chaos and hope for the best. They think simply collecting the information required by law and uploading it into an HR system is enough. Simply put — they expect too much from this person and expect them to understand exactly what to do without any onboarding or training.

So, what do you do? 

In this post, I’m going to be covering five new hire onboarding mistakes you might be making — and how to fix them.

Onboarding Mistake #1: There’s no plan for them

Part of the friction that comes with hiring someone new is the gap between hiring and them being able to start their job duties. But what a lot of business owners don’t realize is that most of the time, it’s their own doing — they don’t detail out roles, responsibilities, or tasks before hiring this person. 

There will always be a learning curve, but your new hire should start to help alleviate some of the workload a month or so into being hired. But if you aren’t sure what to assign them, you may be wasting time and money — two things you cannot afford to lose in your business. 

Giving them busy work is not going to get the ball rolling. Make sure you have a detailed plan for getting them onboard.

The Solution: Make a list

One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is to make a list of tasks you will need them to work on at daily, weekly, and monthly intervals. 

If you’re hiring a graphic designer, for example, how frequently will they need to design images for social media — how often do you post? What website changes need to be made every month? Is there any change or maintenance to your offers coming up? If so, what do you need their help on?

You might also want to consider starting your employee with easier tasks first, so they can learn your process and go from there.

Onboarding Problem #2: The onboarding process feels like it’s taking too long

When you hire someone, it’s because you need help, like, yesterday. But hiring someone without a proper process means you won’t be getting anything done — because you’ll be fielding questions, fixing errors, and feeling like the hiring process was a total mistake. And in the meantime, your client or project work piles up. The new hire is also probably wondering when they will get a clear sense of direction, or if this is just how it will always be with your company.

The first thing to remember is that the onboarding process will take some time. You cannot expect anyone to come into a completely new environment and pick up everything right away without any hiccups. Mistakes will be made. Time will be spent explaining processes

That’s the cost of hiring help. Most experts agree that it takes three months for a new hire to acclimate to the job. Be patient and plan accordingly — and have a plan for those three months.

The solution: Create new hire milestones

Again, it’s completely unrealistic to expect someone to pick up everything immediately. But something that can help make everyone’s onboarding experience run smoother is to create a list of milestones for the job before they start.

What should they know by the end of week one? How about the second month? Is there a way you can ease them into the role by slowly introducing its functions?

This will not only keep things clear to them but also give you a way to evaluate if things are moving forward or not.

Onboarding Problem #3: You’re frustrated because things aren’t being done “the right way”

Another common issue I see when business owners hire is frustration that things aren’t being done “the right way.” But what is “the right way”? Did you clue in your new hire to this method? They cannot possibly know what it is unless you tell them!

The solution: SOPs

Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, clearly and concisely describe the processes for your business. Everything — from how to interact with customers to how to send emails to delegating tasks and workload — should have an SOP.

It can seem like a time-suck to get all of this standardized and written down, but it’s something worth doing. And if you need help, my SOP templates can get you started.

Onboarding Problem #4: You’re answering too many (or too few) questions 

This is an interesting issue because either business owners say their new hires aren’t asking enough questions or they are asking too many. Honestly, the preference comes down largely to personality and patience. 

People who have hired before are more likely to be okay with lots of questions because they’re done it before. But for business owners making their first hire, the questions can overwhelm them. 

The solution: Check-ins and 1:1s

Part of the solution here? You’re going to have to learn to live with questions if you want to keep your talent. And a good rule of thumb is that an employee/contractor who never asks questions may be missing something. 

The best solution here is to schedule 30/60/90-day check-ins. This gives them the opportunity to bring up any concerns in a more comfortable space. It also gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own processes and encourage feedback both ways (sometimes, you are the bottleneck). 

Onboarding Problem #5: Your team feels disengaged

One of the best things about being a small business owner is the connection you form with your hires, whether they be employees or contractors. And when you do have a healthy connection, work is so much easier, rewarding, and sometimes even fun. 

So when everyone feels disconnected, it could spell out bad news for your new hire. Your hires should feel like they’re supported, engaged, and have what they need to do their best work. Even if you’re just a team of two, culture is important.

The solution: Ask questions

Make an effort to get to know who is working for you. Get information about your team, like their birthday, and send them a surprise in the mail when it rolls around. Or their love language and enneagram type. Or even just some of their favorite things! The little things can go a long way. 

This is something than can easily be implemented into hiring SOPs and can be housed in Asana or other project management tools.

Need help writing the right job description?

Of course, a large part of finding the right person for the job lies in the vetting process. Being clear in the job description gives potential hires a realistic idea of what you need — and it’s much easier for them to know if they fit that need.

If you need a little push or extra help writing a good job description, my New Hire Job Description & Onboarding Plan is the right fit for the job (see what I did there?). 

Inside, you’ll find a template that includes an introduction to your company and the role, job duties, what this person can expect during their first month, and what a 30-day review of that role will look like.
This template is available in my online shop now — grab your copy here!

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