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Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian. He believes that business is nothing but a conduit for personal growth and embraces the company’s vision to “love how you live.” When he’s not leading and growing his organizations, you can find Adam either in the mountains or out in nature with his wife and three children.
Last time, we talked about how to effectively attract talent and hire an administrative or operational support staff team member. Often leaders assume that once the hire is made, their job is done.
If only it were that easy! The next 100 days or so are the most critical time to set your new team members up for success and ensure that you will be getting a return on your investment in no time.
Here are four quick tips for effectively onboarding your new support staff.
Start onboarding before Day 1
The time between when an offer is accepted and a new employee starts can be a critical time to create connection and ease the new staff member into the culture.
Don’t miss the opportunity to start making your new employee feel like they are a part of the team — particularly if there is a gap of two or more weeks between the offer and start date. That is a critical time when an employee may get cold feet or perhaps decide to take another offer. It’s an employee market out there right now. Make sure you stand out and get your new team member started right away.
I like to set them up with a company email address right away and start sending them any information that will help give them context about the company. I also send any current projects we may be working on or new business that they will be responsible for. Having that sort of information helps make the first day easier for everyone and usually helps give the new team member more confidence.
I also send over user’s manuals, behavior assessments and bios of the team members they will be working most closely with, again so they aren’t entering the new company completely blind. If you have any upcoming team meetings, office meetings or trainings, make sure you invite them to those as well before their start date.
I make sure I am very clear that all of these pieces are purely optional. There is no requirement to attend any meetings or read any emails before they actually start.
However, the majority of talent is going to appreciate having some basic information about the company and team they are joining so that they are ready to go from Day One.
Create 30-, 60- and 90-day plans
I will also send 30-, 60- and 90-day onboarding plans to new support staff before their first day (and sometimes even during the interviewing process). I want them to clearly understand what is expected of them as they get up and running.
This 90-day plan lets them know how I am going to measure their training and success and gives them specific targets to hit along the way.
At each milestone, we meet, discuss what got done and what didn’t and decide if we’re going to continue the relationship. This is no surprise to the team member — we let them know from Day 1 that we’ll be working through this 90-day plan.
It gives both of us an opportunity to decide if we want to move forward and adjust any goals or expectations as needed for the next 30-day period.
Provide real-time feedback
Don’t wait for the first 30 days to pass before you give feedback to your new team member. If there are specific training issues to address, do those in real-time. It’s also important to address, coach, and correct any issues pertaining to behavior, professionalism, office etiquette, and communication right away.
For example, if your new operations coordinator is communicating with a client in a way that is polite and professional but that doesn’t meet your standards, make sure you bring it to light right away. It’s much easier to handle those issues in real-time rather than wait. By waiting, you are signaling that the communication or behavior is acceptable.
I’m not talking about egregious misconduct or mistakes here — those are actually pretty easy to correct. It’s the more subtle behaviors — how quickly emails are responded to, the way the phone is answered, how clients are addressed or the unnecessary “water-cooler” conversations that will ultimately drive you crazy.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to set clear standards and expectations and then provide feedback to your support staff right away when they are not meeting them. You’ll create a much stronger partnership and a more successful employee and team when you do this.
Spend purposeful time with your new hire
I know, I know, this should go without saying, but I’m sure you’ve been there before. Your new hire has started and you are so relieved to have someone handling the transaction coordinator or listing management that you send some files to your new employee and walk away. Don’t do that.
When you make a hire, your days will get longer for the first 100 days or so. Accept it and embrace it. The investment of your time over those 100 days will pay dividends if you are purposeful with how you are training and leading your support staff.
I think a combination of shadowing and hands-on/on-the-job training is ideal. Your new assistant should go to showings, listing appointments and other client meetings with you to see how you communicate, lead the conversation and follow-up.
From there, allowing your new hire to dive in and take a new listing through the go-live process, with you by their side, and then eventually on their own helps them learn that much faster. Context is key. The more they can understand the business and how your operate within it, the faster they are going to be able to take on the administrative and operational functions.
In addition, implement weekly 30-minute one-on-one meetings with your support staff. This is a time to build the relationship, understand your employee’s goals and motivations, coach them in their career growth, and review projects, training and priorities for the week. Start these right away and set the cadence of accountability from the first week. Put these meetings and all other training appointments on the calendar and stick to them.
Hiring a talented administrative or operational team member is only half the battle. You must take the time to set them up for success with an effective onboarding plan. It may feel like you’re slowing down for a few months, but this investment of time is critical for their growth and the growth of you team.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier and the host of the podcast Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s companies and culture here.