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A 3-step plan to set new employees up for success

A 3-step plan to set new employees up for success

Proper training is just one step in getting off on the right foot with new employees--clearly communicating expectations and observing their progress are just as key.

Companies with strong orientation and training programs are likely to have high performing employees, more employee engagement and strong retention rates. By providing clear expectations, timely and appropriate training, and consistent communication during the first few months of employment, you help to ensure the success of every new employee.


Begin setting clear expectations at new hire orientation. Orientation should include an overview of the employee handbook with a detailed review of some, but not all, policies. When creating an orientation checklist, think about the policies that are most relevant, most often. Here are a few that I recommend discussing during orientation:

  • Attendance (including tardiness and absences)
  • Paid time off
  • Performance and pay review cycle
  • Break Time
  • Parking
  • Dress guidelines

Clearly communicate that the employee is responsible for reading and understanding all of the information included in the employee handbook, and let them know who they should contact with questions. Additionally, be sure the new hire information packet includes a job description, wage scale, organizational chart and a payroll schedule.


On-the-job training should include all aspects of the position and help the employee be well prepared for their first performance evaluation. I recommend that evaluation take place at approximately 90 days of employment. Expect that training will take a minimum of two weeks and will continue for at least six weeks and, in some cases, up to 6 months. For example, a grocery stocker may be trained within two weeks but will still some require coaching and guidance for a few weeks. Training a buyer on all aspects of the position will take much longer, perhaps six months. Be sure your training program is designed to meet a variety of learning styles. Share written information by providing the training checklist. Share details through verbal communication and provide opportunities for hands-on experience. Task-oriented training is a three step process:

1. The trainer demonstrates how a task is done.

2. The employee talks the trainer through the steps while the trainer does them.

3. The employee carries out the task and explains to the trainer what he's doing.

Organizational training includes broader topics that reach beyond specific departments. Customer service and store safety and security are examples. Additionally, organizational training helps the new employee better understand the goals of your organization and the fundamentals of your industry. For example, the general manager might present organizational goals and industry information. These training opportunities serve the dual purpose of giving people a chance to meet employees outside of their home department and interact with company leadership.


Communication and observation are essential in helping employees feel supported and ensuring appropriate coaching is provided as new employees learn their job. Human resources and department managers must regularly touch base with new employees. Trainers should follow-up to ensure expectations were understood and respond to any questions that arise. It’s important to ensure that new employees hear positive reinforcement and are made aware of areas for improvement. Management must monitor performance closely during the training period. If a new employee fails to meet expectations, correction must be made. If the issue persists, the employee may not be a good fit.  Remember, (in most states) at-will employment begins on day one and the employment relationship may be terminated at any time.

By having a clearly outlined plan for the first stage of employment you help ensure new employees gain the skills needed to master their new position and find success within your organization.

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