It’s back to school time and, as the mother of a third grader, time for another round of the school supply shuffle.  Folders, notebooks, pencils, oh my!  The checklist is long, but thankfully, there is a checklist.

The checklist is what makes shopping easy.  The checklist tells you exactly how many pencils and eraser heads to buy.  Without the checklist it’s likely my son would have too many pencils, not enough paper and the wrong type of folder.

If schools can supply students with a checklist of what they will need to prepare them for a productive school year, why don’t companies supply their leaders with a checklist of what managers need to prepare to onboard new hires effectively?

Several years ago I was talking with Roger, the Director of Operations of a large manufacturing company.  He was venting some frustration because his North American team was complaining about the overtime they had to work to make up for the fact that they were down three people in their department.  Roger was in a tough spot.  He knew he had to hire staff, but he also knew that he was the best person to train the new hires, since one of the key positions he had to fill was in management.  Roger’s role evolved over time and he was handling more responsibilities as a director of the company.

Until he had time to hire a manager and get them up to speed, he didn’t have the time to train anyone he hired.  The tricky part is that he didn’t know how he could take the time to hire the manager in the first place.  It’s a catch 22.

When he took a breath from the venting, I asked, “What’s on your Onboarding checklist that you can delegate to others?”  He looked puzzled.  “Onboarding checklist?”

In case you are puzzled as well, an Onboarding checklist is your cheat sheet to manage all of the tasks involved in making sure a new hire has all of the materials and training they need to be successful in their new role.  A good Onboarding checklist has tasks that can easily be assigned to the appropriate person.

Without an Onboarding checklist, the new hire’s direct manager has most, if not all, of the responsibilities on their shoulders to acclimate the new guy into their role and the company.  The initial purpose of creating an Onboarding checklist is to more easily delegate all of the Onboarding tasks and to ensure that no Onboarding activities fall through the cracks.  Each position in your company has it’s own Onboarding checklist.

To create your Onboarding checklist, start with the following categories:  Admin, CEO, HR, Manager and “Culture Mentor.”  Ask the person in that role to document the activities they are responsible for when Onboarding a new hire.  Here is an example of one task for each category:

Admin: Update the organization chart with the new hire’s information

CEO: Communicate the vision of the organization during first week

HR: Prepare documents for payroll

Manager: Craft clear expectations for actions and results 30, 60, 90 days

Culture Mentor: Plan activities to make new hire feel welcome

With an Onboarding checklist for each role in your company, you can stop procrastinating and hire the people you need with the security of knowing you can just follow your checklist to ensure their success.

If you would like a copy of my Professional Onboarding Checklist, email your request to Merit@MeritGest.com


Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in onboarding top talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, onboarding and retaining top talent.

Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com.

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