Reap Big Rewards by Making Performance Management Part of the Onboarding Process

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Performance management and onboarding are inextricably linked. When you and your team understand this, you can execute goals successfully, encourage higher engagement, and achieve better retention rates. Once you recognize the connection between a best-in-class onboarding program and a robust performance culture, you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t associate the two even sooner.

Here are five reasons why your onboarding program is the perfect place to start building a performance culture:

1. Onboarding Sets the Tone for Performance

When you onboard a brand new employee, you are doing more than just showing them how things work at your company — you are setting the standards for communication, trust, and performance for the employee’s entire tenure.

A best-in-class onboarding program should always include performance standards as part of the process. If yours doesn’t, consider how you can integrate these expectations. Every company has one or two specific metrics that spell success for its workers, whether it be speed, safety, quality of service, or something else. These metrics should be clearly communicated and illustrated for new hires. (Not sure what your metrics are? Take a look at your mission statement or company values.)

For example, if your company values timeliness, let new hires know during the onboarding process that being on time to meetings and to work each day is extremely important in your company. Illustrate this value by setting small deadlines throughout the process. Something as simple as telling a new hire to have their insurance forms submitted by 2:00 p.m. on Thursday can begin habituating your employee to the specific performance culture of your organization.

2. Onboarding Introduces New Employees to Your Company’s Various Systems

Your newest hire will spend a lot of time during onboarding learning the processes and systems necessary to do their job. While it may seem counterintuitive to add yet another system to their workload — in this case, your performance management system and its relevant tools and technologies — this is actually the perfect time. You are already getting your new hires acclimated to everything else; why not show them how you measure performance at the company as well?

Companies with great onboarding programs constantly communicate to new employees what they can expect over the next few days, weeks, and months. If there are performance milestones for the new employee to face down the road, give them a heads-up now! Show them the performance management system your company uses, help them add important dates to their calendar, and outline any rubrics or metrics used to evaluate performance. In essence, the key is to empower your new employees to manage their own performance.

3. Career Pathing Starts With Onboarding

According to a Korn Ferry survey, boredom is one of the key reasons why people leave their jobs. In fact, 33 percent of responds selected “I’m bored, [I] need a new challenge” as their primary reason for looking for a new job in the next year. If you don’t show your employees a clear path for advancement and continued challenge in your organization, you may lose them even sooner than normal. Considering that 59 percent of employees feel 1-2 years is the appropriate amount of time to stay at a job before looking to move on, this could mean losing new hires in only a matter of months.

Good performance management and onboarding processes should both offer employees a bird’s-eye view of where they can go in your organization based on their performance — and how to get there. Share these stepping stones — and the skills and attitudes needed to reach them — with each employee from the very beginning. When your employees see they won’t stagnate at your company, they will be much more willing to stick around.

4. Great Onboarding Helps Employees Succeed Faster

Most employees feel the pressure to prove themselves early on in a new position. They want to show their new managers and team members they can handle their job duties and have the skills to succeed. An onboarding process that gives new hires a clear view into precisely what is expected in terms of performance sets them up for success from the beginning.

Implementing immediate formal and informal performance feedback, early and often, creates a culture of performance that helps the employee get up to speed much more quickly. This also ensures a smoother transition from the onboarding period into the organization, as the new hire will already be familiar with performance management processes and expectations.

5. Onboarding Introduces Employees to Their Peers

If your company does 360-degree reviews or peer reviews, onboarding is the perfect time to introduce new hires to that system. That way, when it’s their turn to give feedback to their colleagues, they’ll know how it works and how to contribute meaningfully. Your newest team member will also learn how their job — and every other role — impacts the company, which leads to higher engagement and productivity.

If you use a mentor or buddy system in your onboarding process, you can introduce peer reviews in this context. Essentially, your employees can practice on one another, which takes some of the fear and mystique out of more formal performance management conversations.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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