The day always comes. The one you don't want. When your great team member leaves for 'greener' pastures.
In my case it was to one of the Big 4 multinational accounting and advisory firms. I can't compete with that. It's great experience. I did my stint at one myself.
So, Tuesday was the last day with Leya the Intern. Endings always make me sad.
When Leya first came on board I wasn't sure if it was going to work out or not. We both took a risk. From my PhD research, I knew the first day would be critical. The welcome you give makes a surprising difference to their success.
So I put aside the whole first day for Leya. Explained her role, answered all her questions, went through how things are done around here and got her started on some meaningful work.
I also asked Leya what she was interested in. What she hoped to gain from the internship and then did what I could do craft her role with that in mind.
She told me she wanted to learn to be a great coach. So I arranged for her to sit in on some coaching sessions and directed her to some great books on the topic. She later told me how grateful she was that I took the time to welcome her.
Here are my tips for getting the onboarding process just right.
Put aside plenty of time, even an entire day nothing says welcome like someone dropping everything to show you the ropes. If you put in the time upfront, to answer questions and get them settled, you'll save yourself many hours and headaches down the track.
Do your homework. There's no point in putting an entire day aside to answer questions you don't have answers to yourself. Prepare and be clear about what you expect. Anticipate the questions they might ask. When parts of the role remain unclear to you, instead of giving a vague answer, tell it like it is. "Listen John, to be frank with you, this part of the role isn't clearly defined yet. It's something we'll need to tackle together."
Give them hope for the future. Find out what they want and show them the way to get it. Sometimes, you'll need to stick your neck. Like I did for Leya with a couple of my coaching clients.
You may be thinking: "What? Stick my neck out for someone I've never met before?" You bet. It's what makes all the difference. Having faith in them before they've earned it. If you start the relationship on this note, it sets you up for success.
Think of onboarding as welcoming a guest into your home. Your time and care will pay off in spades.
It's the end of an era. And I will miss Leya.
With more than 25 years experience working with senior and middle managers in business, Executive Coach and Organizational Psychologist Dr Michelle Pizer is an expert in the management of people at work. Click here to visit her website and learn more about her.