The summer holidays might be in full swing, affording college staff some much-deserved time off, but a teacher’s work is never done and preparations for next term are already taking place. And ahead of some new hires joining the college, part of those preparations should be making sure that they are being set up for success.
It’s often no luck when a new member of staff comes in and hits the ground running – they’ve normally benefitted from the support they need to show their best selves.
Having a clear structure to the onboarding of new hires not only helps them, but also your team and college as a whole. Research has shown that systematic onboarding brings new workers up to speed 50% faster, which means they’re more quickly and efficiently able to contribute to achieving desired goals.
So, what does an effective onboarding strategy look like?
1. Get an understanding of their challenges
No matter how confident a new hire might appear, they will be nervous about starting a new college – some will be feeling quite vulnerable, while for others it might just be a few butterflies.
It often depends on their individual circumstances and challenges. For example, some new hires might be relocating as part of the job change, which brings with it its own stresses.
It’s important that you’re tuned into any concerns your new hires might have, as this could inform the way they behave in the first few days and weeks. Then, you can identify where you might be able to reassure and provide advice.
2. Help them build effective working relationships
The speed and ease at which a new hire settles is often dependent on how quickly they feel part of the team. At the start of a new term, everyone is busy getting their own house in order, ensuring that they are as prepared as possible for everything that the year might throw at them.
But it’s crucial that the team makes an effort to make new hires feel as welcome as possible, and start to build effective working relationships right from the off.
To help break down a few barriers and get people talking, it’s never a bad idea to head out for a meal or some drinks as a team a few weeks into term.
3. Give them some clear direction
New hires should be the first people in the team to get their appraisal – even if there’s nothing to ‘appraise’ as of yet.
This is your chance to help these employees understand the wider culture of the college, the college improvement plan, and what this means in terms of what is expected of them.
Even if expectations were discussed during the recruiting process, that probably feels a while ago now; plus you can now make the discussions more detailed and personal to them.
4. Provide support and coaching beyond onboarding
If you want a good hire to stay for the long term, it’s important to remember that it takes time for them to settle in properly. In other words, don’t just leave them to ‘sink or swim’ a few weeks into the term – you need to keep providing intensive support and coaching for the best part of the academic year.
Those ‘check-ins’ can be spaced further and further apart as the year progresses, but by periodically making time for new hires, you’re giving them the platform to air any issues or concerns. Not all problems will resolve themselves, and by acting on them as soon as possible, you have a greater chance of bringing them to a good conclusion.
However, even with a solid onboarding strategy, some new hires simply won’t be up to the grade or may prove to be a poor cultural fit. That’s why it’s so important to get your recruitment right, so that you can have confidence in your hires.