Onboarding is one of those trendy terms that have multiple meanings, but most people aren’t certain what it really means. So, let me clarify by sharing my definition. Simply put it’s preparing a new hire for their position before they begin the job.  Not all onboarding is equal. Yes, giving a new teammate a brochure about the organization is a form of onboarding, but if that’s where it ends it’s not much, is it?

What I want to talk about today is expanding onboarding beyond the first day of employment. I’ll share some of what I believe is important on the first day, but I want to take it further, I want you to stop and consider your first day at your current position. Were you onboarded, was it comprehensive, and if so how much did you retain a week or a month later? And that’s my point. Whatever information you share during the onboarding process needs to be followed up and repeated. Most of us aren’t one meeting people. I know I for one need to hear, see, and do things several times before it totally sinks in. How about you?

The First Step

Prepare the employment candidate during the interview by sharing the positives of the position as well as the pitfalls. Talk about expectations, and the company’s mission as well as the candidate’s part in that mission, and leave the candidate with information about the company and the position, Interview Checklist.

Ready, Set …

Next, prepare for the employees first day on the job.

  • Put up a welcome sign on the front door or better yet on a digital screen
  • Have their direct report meet them at the door
  • Clean the work area, desk, and stock the workstation with supplies.
  • Have personal business cards printed and ready
  • Set up an email account
  • Have all tools, computers, software, etc. up and working
  • Conduct orientation New Hire Orientation Checklist

Take a Walk

Take the new hire on a tour but not just to point out departments and introduce them to team leaders. Take the time to show them where to park, the copy machine and how it operates, the nearest restrooms, the cafeteria, and the breakroom. Any part of the workplace from workout facilities to daycare that the new hire might take advantage of should be part of the first day tour.

Get to Know Them

So, how do you get to know someone? To begin with you ask them questions. You can begin to learn who they are, what they want, and how they think with a few questions. Here are some examples:

  • What motivates you? “The first key to motivating anyone is to understand WHAT motivates him or her. Too often, well-intentioned leaders attempt motivating their team with what works for them. What motivates the leader seldom motivates every individual on a team. And to complicate matters people combine motivational factors.” — Are You a Motivator?
  • How do you learn? “Too many trainers only teach how they learn, Too often, when a trainee does not grasp the information, we think less of them (What are you stupid?). Consider the question, “How do I adjust my training to their learning style?” How should I train people? — How Not to Train People
  • What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in one, three or, five years?
  • What questions do you have about the company, your department, or the job?


There you have it, take all of the above and everything else you do during the onboarding process and repeat it. Follow up by checking how they’re adapting to new software, if their email is properly set up, and they know how to use their computer. Repeat orientation, take them on more tours, and survey them at one week, one month, and ninety days. When onboarding isn’t ongoing, it’s not on target.