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Tue, May 1, 2012

Talent Acquisition

How Onboarding Helps Develop Your Future Leaders

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This guest post is by Alexia Vernon, a coach and trainer who specializes in helping organizations recruit, retain, educate, and grow their young professional workforce. Her book, “90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance,” describes how to get new employees oriented, integrated and trained within 90 days of their employment. To learn more about her work, visit www.AlexiaVernon.com or connect with her on Twitter @AlexiaVernon.

As a manager of new hires, you are as responsible for inspiring great performance as you are for getting new employees oriented to your company and to their role. Especially during their onboarding process, you should model the things you ask of your new staff. To create leaders out of your new hires, here are a few key actionable strategies:

  • Let yourself learn from them. If you want to create a culture of perpetual learning and growth, it’s important to let yourself be open to what your new hires have to give. By doing this, you show that you are as committed to your development as you expect your new hires to be committed to theirs. The key is to see your workforce – especially your young youngest employees – as professionals capable of making a variety of important contributions. You will be surprised both at how much you will learn and how your willingness to learn helps employees feel appreciated—a win, win all around.
  • Make yourself accessible. As a manager of new hires you usually make yourself available during week one, but it’s the time after the initial orientation period during that vital first quarter where your accessibility will matter most.
  • Schedule weekly check-in meetings and encourage your employees to reach out to you. Not only will they feel more welcome in your department and the overall company, but with this comfort will come their ability express real concerns. When you know if and when they are struggling, then you can co-create solutions before real problems emerge. Plus, the more confident and competent they become in their communication, the more effectively they will communicate with their fellow coworkers and with their clients.
  • Push them outside their comfort zones. When you give your employees opportunities to stretch in their roles, you allow them to do their best work. They feel like they are trusted to make a bigger contribution to the company – which is what they desire. The more engaged they feel in their work, the stronger the loyalty they will develop with your company.
  • Give them opportunities to lead. The quicker new employees have opportunities to take responsibility for projects and people, the quicker they will become strong leaders in your company. Let them spearhead a service project or facilitate a team brainstorming session. Remember that leaders need time to find their vision and voice. Continue to make yourself available to help your employees, particularly your young professionals, get comfortable in their power.

Developing your future leaders is about giving them appropriate opportunities to have input in their work, chances to take on increasingly responsible tasks, and providing the formal and informal training and mentoring for them to excel. It’s all about understanding who these employees are and how they work so that you can give them what you both need for success. As a manager your legacy is not who you are as a leader, but rather how many leaders you develop after you.

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