Onboarding employees can require way more time, energy and effort than you ever expect it to. If onboarding new staff members is a regular part of your job, you’re already well aware of this fact.

If you’re new to the onboarding game or only bring people on occasionally, you’ll want to do some serious planning beforehand to keep from becoming frustrated or falling behind. 

The good news is that you don’t have to tackle this alone. The more people you involve in the onboarding process, the more welcome and integrated your new employee will feel. Plus, you’ll be leading by example, actively demonstrating your organizational commitment to teamwork. 

To make the process as positive as possible for all involved, ask yourself some key questions along the way. 

  • Are you focusing on the right things in the right way? 
  • Are you maintaining your energy and keeping the proper perspective? 
  • Are you getting the support you need – for yourself and those around you? 

To help stay focused and maintain a healthy balance, it’s critical to recognize the potential to fall into negative patterns. Being aware of these common, but potentially destructive, behaviors will help you steer clear.

The time trap – Don’t squeeze yourself too tight in the name of efficiency. The last thing you want is to find yourself rushing through the process or in a constant time crunch. 

Prepare for onboarding ahead of time by clearing off large chunks of time to train, mentor, and acclimate your new hire. No matter how long you think an activity will take, add an extra 20 – 30 minutes for overage. If you get done early, you can always grab coffee or jump ahead to the next thing, but falling behind is discouraging for everyone.

Riding off in all directions – You can't help others focus if you’re not focused yourself. There are an infinite number of things you could do on any given day, but only a few that are critical. Focus on the critical.

Undefended boundaries – If you don't establish appropriate boundaries regarding what you are willing and not willing to do, those around you – bosses, peers, direct reports – won't know what is appropriate or inappropriate to bring to you. Clear, consistent boundaries are good for everyone.

Brittleness – The uncertainty of transition can cause you to over-commit to a failing course of action and potentially ignore or rationalize things that aren’t working. Stay flexible and know when to cut your losses.

Isolation – As you work through the processes of onboarding your new employees, it’s natural to want to assume full responsibility for the outcomes. But you’re not in it alone. Ask for help when you need it, and allow the rest of your team to lend their skills to the process. 

Indecision – With more things on your plate, some items will have to take on different levels of importance. Consciously or unconsciously, this may lead you to avoid making tough decisions. Be aware of this tendency and make sure you’re setting a strong example for your new hire and your team.

Going over the top – While a little stress might be motivating, too much is, well… too much. Know your breaking point and be sure to stay on the healthy side of it.

How to maintain your equilibrium 

As you take on your own job in addition to the important job of bringing new people into the fold, you will have to fight to maintain a balance. Success or failure will result from all of the small choices you make along the way. Some choices create momentum while others are like death by a thousand cuts. Your day-to-day actions will establish the pattern for all that follows. 

Adopt success strategies

We know you’ve got them. Now it’s time to pull them out and use them. Do you need to focus on organization? Delegating? Creating efficiencies? Letting go? If you want a few new ideas, ask around. You may be surprised at some of the unique strategies your colleagues have developed. 

Enforce personal disciplines 

Knowing what you should be doing is not the same thing as doing it. Find the discipline to manage your responsibilities.

  • Plan to plan by setting time aside daily/weekly to identify top priorities
  • Resist committing yourself too much, too quickly, or too often
  • Get some of the "hard stuff" done every day
  • Step back on occasion to regain perspective
  • Be self-aware and take time to reflect on how you are handling things

Build your support systems

Surround yourself with as many great people and as much stability as possible. And remember to get help when you need it. It’s impossible to lead with confidence when you’re off balance. Steady yourself first and the team will follow.

This is the seventh post in a series of blogs about how to effectively onboard new employees. For more information on this topic, read How to Effectively Onboard New Employees, 6 Ways to Accelerate Learning, Tips for Transition, and Define Success, Secure Early Wins, and Concentrate on Culture. Subscribe to this blog to receive new HR-related posts each week.

Photo by Paulus Rusyanto

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