Ask CEOs and founders about the most important parts of their job, and most of them will cite recruiting and hiring a great team. And yet, they also acknowledge that this part of their job is difficult to get right. Only 14% of teams consider themselves great at onboarding new team members. Furthermore, it’s time-consuming: the majority of teams take more than three weeks to onboard new employees.
Clearly, there’s room for improvement in how we get people up to speed on information, processes, and tools. A good checklist, paired with a robust knowledge management system, ensures you’re navigating this process well. Your new hire, as well as your team, will be stronger, thanks to your systematic approach.
What New Hires Need to Know
There’s a range of information new team members need, ranging from explicit knowledge (like the wifi password,) to implicit knowledge, (like cultural norms). A good hiring and onboarding process will teach new hires the full range of information. Here are some high-level categories to make sure you include:
Explicit or factual information
Explicit knowledge includes information that’s straight-forward but perhaps not used daily. Your wifi network name, fax number, and mailing address may all fall into this category. Clarify where and how you store common passwords. And, ideally, give them access to a team password manager, so all employees know what to do, in order to keep things secure.
Also, consider logging the contact info for products and services that keep your office running smoothly. For example, document the vendors you use for printer paper, coffee, or office cleaning. Though you might currently have a point person for these things, you don’t want to find yourself caught off guard if that person goes on an unexpected leave.
Context on which tools are used and how
Most teams use a lot of different products and tools to get their jobs done. According to the software and subscription experts at Blissfully, teams with 101-250 people use nearly 100 different SaaS tools.
Make it easy for new employees to navigate these apps and products by writing down what you use and how. For instance, if you use Gusto for expense reporting, give people clear instructions in Tettra about how to submit their receipts with Gusto. If there are certain limitations, include those details on the Tettra page as well. Employees will be grateful when they’re able to submit a receipt for the first time and can navigate the process just by searching for “expense report” in Tettra.
Furthermore, consider logging all the different products you use. This will help new employees ensure they’ve created logins for all the different accounts they’ll need. You could use a single Tettra page to log every tool you use across the company. If you want to get really fancy, you could also include detail on which teams use each tool and/or who is the primary account holder. This will also help ensure that you have a single, easy place to look when you want to validate that you still need everything you pay for.
Process and Checklists
As Atul Gawande has researched and written about in the Checklist Manifesto, even the most common processes can go awry. Humans are forgetful, and having a checklist of important steps leaves less to chance. Writing down the processes you use most reduces the likelihood of human error.
Here’s a rule of thumb: high-performance teams tend to write down every process with three or more steps. Sure, you might feel like you can remember a process with three steps, but why leave it to chance? Besides, your new hires will appreciate the fact that you’ve documented the processes they need to know.
Whether you’re explicit with it or not, your team has a culture. There are traits and practices you value and ones you avoid. Make it easier for new hires to learn and adapt to the company culture by clarifying what you believe. If you have a culture deck, upload it to Tettra, so people can reference it easily. If you don’t yet have a culture deck, we published a guide to writing a culture deck help you get started.
Beyond culture, consider documenting some of the unspoken norms that people adhere to. These don’t have to be hard policies, but if there are ways you want employees to behave, you’ll enable them to do so by writing it down. For instance, some teams prefer that employees refrain from emailing one another on vacation. Others insist that team members should always be on Slack during working hours. Whatever your team norms, make them explicit so that no one is left guessing.
How to Onboard New Hires with this Checklist
Flesh out your checklist with everything a new hire needs to know. Solicit input from multiple people on your team, since everyone will likely have something to suggest. You can give the checklist to your new team member or store it in Tettra. Better yet, use it to build a Tettra template, so that you can replicate and customize it for each new hire.
After going through the onboarding process with your new team member, ask them what they liked and was confusing about the process. Ask them what they wished they’d know but didn’t. You can use this feedback to make life easier next time you bring a new person on board. Over time, you can start building departmental-specific checklists for your new hires, so that you’re able to get more granular about the processes and tools that are most important in certain kinds of roles. Over time, you’ll find that new employees get up to speed faster and are better equipped to do their jobs well.