Onboarding for new employees is definitely on your radar as a recruiter or manager. Or at least it should be. But is the same true for temporary team members such as interim managers or freelancers?
You have several reasons for doing an onboarding. You want the new employee to feel welcome. That they quickly find their way within the company and that the objectives and content of the job become clear. So why would you only think about this for permanent employees? Exactly!
Good to read on! So, we agree on the value of onboarding for temporary employees. The good news is that it is not that different from onboarding after a permanent recruitment. The main difference is the shorter duration of the employment. Consequently, the onboarding process will also be faster.
So it is best to get a head start by starting with pre-boarding before the actual start date of the assignment. How do you go about this?
- Provide the starter with information about the company’s mission, vision and strategy. Input such as market research or team presentations can also be useful. This way they can already get a general idea of the context.
- Let the starter get acquainted with the organisation and go beyond sharing an organisation chart. Prepare an overview of the stakeholders and useful contacts for the position. This will help them get started much faster.
- It can also be useful to share the customary processes and methods with the new employee beforehand.
- Arrange practical matters such as laptop, software, badges, etc. in advance. There is nothing more annoying than losing time with IT or Facility during the first days.
- Last but not least: announce the arrival of the new employee internally. This is equally important in the case of an interim or freelancer.
You only make a first impression once. And that does not only hold true for the applicant at the interview. You too should do everything to make the first real acquaintance with the company as pleasant and smooth as possible. This way, the new employee will start the job with full of energy.
So preparing for a Welcome Day is no superfluous luxury. But what do you do best on such a first day?
- Sort out the practicalities such as laptop, badge, etc. This should not take long, as you have already prepared everything in pre-boarding!
- Make practical arrangements if you have not already done so. When is it best to be in the office? Which recurring meeting should one attend?
- Make sure you meet with the right people. In the first place, this is the line manager. But short introductions to HR and other stakeholders for the assignment are also useful.
- As line manager, make sure the expectations are very clear. We cannot emphasise this enough. Certainly in the case of temporary reinforcement by an interim manager or freelancer, it is crucial to define the expectations. You do that by formulating S.M.A.R.T. objectives. Discuss the concrete expectations and also mention the obstacles you see today. Bear in mind that a job description for a permanent recruitment is often different from short-term expectations. It is especially these short-term expectations that are important for temporary support. So keep that in mind.
- Then go over the programme for the coming weeks. What will be worked on first? What deliverables and deadlines are there? Which important meetings or events are on the agenda?
A well prepared Welcome Day should allow people to function autonomously from day 2. Of course, there will be many questions after that. That is why you can work with a buddy per topic. For example, someone for IT, someone for processes. Make sure people know exactly who they can go to with which questions. And make sure that these people are also aware of it.
Follow-up, coaching & feedback
Your brand new interim manager or freelancer is now well on his way. But it doesn’t stop there. We often see that everything seems to go smoothly during an assignment. Yet unexpectedly negative feedback emerges afterwards. And that can be avoided!
Making good agreements and clearly formulating the objectives and expectations during the Welcome Day is already half the work. Afterwards, the follow-up is very important, coaching and feedback are part of it. This keeps the new employees motivated and sharp.
- Hold short feedback meetings regularly, for example weekly.
- Ask about progress against the targets. Above all, ask about the obstacles to achieving the objectives. This way you can intervene in time when things threaten to go wrong.
- Formalise these moments as well. You can do that in a simple spreadsheet with a few columns: time, subject, owner, action points and deadlines. You then use this document during each feedback moment.
The absence of regular feedback moments is a major cause of early leavers in companies. This may be less relevant in the context of temporary employees, but you do want them to be able to perform to the best of their abilities. And that is only possible if they feel comfortable in the organisation.
This article was written in collaboration with Armand Ceulemans.