Even excellent people cannot be excellent if the right conditions are not met. Imagine recruiting a top basketball player and then not turning on the court lights. “Sink or swim” may be good for Spartans, but it is an expensive and time-consuming philosophy for those tasked with creating value in an organization.
Many leaders take the incomplete view that onboarding is an HR service limited to facilities (ex. computer, telephone, and business cards) and orientation (ex. Introductions and “Company 101”). The common result is “busy” employees who are labeled as “not working out” or “underperforming” or “not fitting in” about 13 months later.
Excuses abound: executive hires are too sophisticated; internal hires know what to do already; or for external hires, it’s obvious what they need to do.
The solution (and this is what A level players do to get A level players acting like it) is complete onboarding. By complete I mean the incomplete view above plus a process to describe what success looks like over the next 90, 180 and 360 days. Start with the question (to yourself the person supervising the new employee): “I would be delighted by (the employee’s) performance this year if I saw these three things…”. Some examples of three things include: demonstrated competency on critical internal systems, demonstrated mastery of essential skills, and progress on a specific project/account/initiative.
The answer to that question should then be discussed, agreed upon, documented and followed up with the new hire.
Do this correctly, and not only will you avoid costs associated with an A player in the dark, you will plant the right seeds in the mind of your new hire from the beginning: I care about your success; the path to win is clear; you are a partner in your own success; and we keep success top of mind through disciplined follow up. Are you on board with that?