Onboarding Someone New

Onboarding Someone New By Siobhan Murphy {4 minutes to read} When someone new joins an organization, one of the biggest derailers can be their inability to assimilate well into the culture. Another obstacle is relying on past skills that worked for them in their old job when new skills may be required. They think that what got them here will get them there.

It costs organizations approximately 30% of salary to recruit, hire and train a mid-level manager, and it takes some time for them to start contributing. Leaders can assist their new hires to assimilate quickly and contribute to the organization faster. With some planning, the leader can assist the new person to create a 30-60-90 day plan to make a contribution quickly.

Profiles International has made a really helpful distinction between orientation and onboarding.

Orientation is where you introduce someone to all of the people in the organization, go over the employee handbook and how to get paid, as well as all of the administrative details of getting to know a company. Orientation may even include some of the vision, mission, and values of the organization.

Onboarding is about helping the person become useful quickly, contributing to the organization as fast as possible.

Who is Important?

The leader can help the new person identify the most important people to meet, and start building a rapport and relationship with them, whether internally or externally:

  • Colleagues
  • Peers
  • Other leaders in the organization


  • Shareholders
  • Donors
  • Clients
  • Business partners

Define the Early Win

The next thing the leader can help the new hire think through is what would an early win look like? If somebody is ramping up in a new position, what’s something that would really help the person make their mark on the organization? It might be:

  • Making a sale with a particular customer;
  • Getting a highly valued donor;
  • Streamlining a particular process;
  • Turning around a certain team.

Helping new a employee really focus on an early win will give them credibility and impact in the organization.

Know the Culture

The next main point is to think through the culture, helping the person know the power structure. What are the written and unwritten rules of how things get done in the organization?

Describing the culture and helping the new person understand it requires the leader to think like an outsider coming into the organization:

  • What is our culture?
  • How do things get done here?
  • What are some absolute no-no’s that will keep you in “outsider” status?
  • What are some things that can really demonstrate you can be a part of this organization?

Know the Processes

One of the daunting tasks a new employee faces is learning the multiple systems needed to do the work. You can’t learn them all well at the same time, so prioritize the systems and processes to be learned.

In closing, leaders can support their new hires’ success by thinking strategically and helping them ramp up quickly to leverage their contribution. Here are a couple of books I can recommend:

The Politics of Promotion, by Bonnie Markus

The First 90 Days, by Michael T. Watkins

What techniques have you used to successfully onboard someone new?

Siobhan Murphy
Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach