By Gabriel Richards, founder and CEO of Endertech.
Plenty of literature has been produced regarding how important hiring is to the success of your business. Many of us have heard the "get the right people on the bus" metaphor and have digested statistics and anecdotes related to the cost of making poor hiring decisions. That is all well and good, and we as business owners and executives would be well-served to follow that advice. We should implement hiring processes and procedures that help ensure we hire folks who have the attitude and aptitude necessary to succeed within our organizations.
However, I find much less material on the topic of onboarding. Once we've made our best hiring choices, how do we effectively train these new employees? How can we give them a running start, make the criteria for success clear, and maximize the chances that they meet and exceed our expectations?
After 17 years of hiring experience, the solution I came up with is an adaptation of the advice that business owners encounter often. Just as we should develop detailed plans and visions for our businesses as a whole, so too should we develop detailed visions for our employees as individuals.
I began a process of developing and refining a "Vivid Vision" for my business, inspired by a presentation I attended and Cameron Herold's book, Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less. In it, he describes developing a "Vivid Vision" of what your business will be like in three years as critical to your success. Then, he recommends working backward to articulate the incremental goals that will get you to that achievement.
Creating Vision Documents for Employee Onboarding
This exercise gives you an opportunity to clarify your own expectations for the role and connect those expectations to time-based goals so you can objectively measure your new employee's performance. Secondly, your new employee will appreciate the time and effort you've put into imagining their role and how it should evolve over time. Clearly map out the criteria for success to align their personal vision with what they'll need to do to achieve those successes.
To do this, in my employee vision documents, I start with a summary that identifies why I like the candidate and what I understand about their personal motivations and ambitions. I spell out the high-level goals for the position and how I expect the candidate to achieve them in general terms, making it clear the details are up to them. Then, I break down very specific milestones for 30-, 60-, and 90-day reviews, which is our typical probationary period. These SMART goals help me to quickly confirm whether my hiring intuition was correct. We sit down to review them again after 12 months.
Applying These Principles to Your Organization
The employee vision document you create should also include the terms of their employment, including how their compensation will be structured, benefits, and any other relevant information. Assuming the vision/job offer is accepted, I like to quickly follow up with a welcome packet that includes information about all our core hardware/software systems and personal access information to those systems.
You should also consider sharing team member bios so the employee knows who's who. These practices have significantly improved my level of preparation as well as the mutual success and satisfaction I share with new employees. Most recently, I brought on a new e-commerce director: He met all of the success criteria at every milestone. This put him on the path to leadership of the division, ultimately increasing revenue by 56 percent in the last six months.
Apply the principles of business visioning and planning that you use for the entire organization to the individual level. Envision what the path of success looks like for your new employee, then document it, share it, discuss it and measure it.
Gabriel Richards is the founder and CEO of Endertech, a web development company in Los Angeles focused on crafting internet-enabled solutions for business.