Onboarding new team members is an essential part of any leader’s job, but onboarding processes often miss the mark. So much, in fact, that only 12% of employees believe their companies do a great job onboarding.

The key to a great onboarding process is consistency and a continuous focus on evolving your program.  Read on for seven onboarding truths that will improve your new team member process today:

1. Consistent processes drive consistent results.

Just like the other areas of your business, your results are directly tied to the amount of effort you put into developing your programs.

While some facilities have clear onboarding programs, many others fail to set their new team members up for success. Take time to consider what key information they need to receive and what skills and behaviors team members must demonstrate before they start interacting with guests on their own.

You don’t necessarily have to write books, manuals and lengthy job aids (sadly, few would read them if you did). But, at the very least, create a training checklist so that key pieces of training content don’t fall through the cracks and each new team member receives the same information.

2. Job shadowing is not enough.

Providing new team members with the chance to pair up with your facility’s top performers is a great component of your onboarding program. It helps new staff learn skills and processes through their coworker’s mentoring and gain confidence in their roles as they begin to work with guests by themselves.

But job shadowing alone leaves training up to chance, and, often, whole chunks of content will be left out if not encountered in on-the-job sessions.

Instead, build a blended onboarding program that includes job shadowing, classroom time, self-led learning video review (or production), learning games and group and individual work to help your new folks feel supported and ready to thrive.

Be sure to include a knowledge assessment that each team member must complete before they go out onto the floor on their own. You could give a written quiz or use key questions and scenarios to create games and activities that will allow new team members to demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge. In fact, here’s one for free!

3. Teach the what and how, but don’t forget the ‘why’.

When your facility is new, it’s easy to motivate team members through a cohesive orientation that establishes your site’s core values, service and conduct standards. Over time, though, “momentum creep” may occur, with less focus on your facility’s why and more focus on the tasks new staff must master.

It’s essential that you build a strong foundation with every new team member by helping them connect with the heart of your business. Your culture and values should be front and center in hiring, orientation, throughout onboarding and part of your day-to-day management language.

4. Start communication flow in both directions.

Feedback is a valuable, often overlooked piece of training – and management. Of course, team members need to know what they are doing well and what they need to improve, but that’s just half the equation.

Use onboarding to build a reciprocal feedback loop that establishes trust in your team. Encourage new ideas and empower them to be creative in their roles. One way to do this is to use open-ended questions during training sessions, instead of closed questions that only have one answer. By doing so, you can assess knowledge gaps and give team members a chance to shine, especially when you praise their contributions and ideas. Additionally, questions that ask team members to consider a scenario and decide how they would approach it helps them develop critical thinking skills and build autonomy.

Throughout onboarding, check in with team members often by asking, “what questions do you have about topic or task?” When asked in an open-ended manner, you create an environment that suggests questions are welcome, and team members will begin to feel comfortable coming to you with questions or errors.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback about the way they see the facility, a process or even how they’re enjoying the training thus far. Feedback for managers and leaders build trusting teams, help you deliver training and hone your management style to meet the needs of all your varied team members. While some staff perform best with a lot of praise and positive reinforcement, you might find that others thrive better with straight-talk. The best managers are able to give the right coaching at the right time, and you can only do that by getting to know your team members.

5. Beware of assumptions.

For some positions, it makes sense to have a basic competency profile of the skills that a new hire must already possess in order to be considered for a role, but, for frontline team members, your facility is likely one of their first jobs.

Imagine that your new team member arrives with a clean slate, and don’t assume they come with knowledge about things like phone etiquette, cleaning or interacting with people outside their age group. You might think that sweeping or mopping a floor is an obvious “no-brainer,” but that assumption can set your new team members up to fail – and you up to be disappointed.

6. Use the tools at your disposal.

Your facility management software should include a training mode that mirrors your unique business.  Take full advantage of it by offering scenario-based practical training time in a controlled environment.  Build common scenarios team members will encounter and build in product and software training together. This will help team members gain product fluency and transaction speed so they can hit the ground running when they begin to work with your guests.

7. Keep it going.

One last key mistake leaders make is thinking that training ends after a few weeks or months. The best managers find ways every day to teach and coach team members. Remember that for many, you are their first boss at their first job, and that gives you an opportunity – maybe even a responsibility to help mold them into the employees and citizens of your community in the years to come.

Training may take many forms and not just focused on tasks in your facility – from mentorship to life skills.  But if you take care of your team members, they’ll take care of your guests – and your business.

Download our sample training checklist and knowledge assessment, and let us know how you will use it in the comments or on Twitter.


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