An onboarding process is like an extended first date. Its a time to make a good impression on new vendors, clients, and employees, and for you to introduce your company, its values, and its culture in a way that will appeal to those groups of people.

The impression made during onboarding creates the foundation of future business dealings with vendors, clients, and employees. There are definitely best practices you and your company can take to ensure new relationships start positively.

Start With Discovery

When onboarding new clients, the best way to identify what they need, and how you can contribute, is to complete a discovery. The discovery process involves identifying what your new client is currently doing, what their completion is doing and how they compare. The process identifies glaring holes in their strategy, openings in the market and will help to guide your first few months of strategy.

(Learn more about the discovery process by reading our Discovery Process Whitepapers: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

Be Ready Logistically

Logistics are not always the most exciting part of onboarding, but theyre certainly important.

Onboarding new clients and vendors should include a restatement of the roles and responsibilities of both parties. This will help set expectations and reduce confusion when you get into the nitty gritty work down the road. Figure out payment early on — at both a client or vendor level — as well as within your own financial department. Is payment happening on a monthly basis? At the end of the project? These details should be finalized before any work is underway.

As for new employees, theyre probably eager to get to work. Since most jobs these days rely on access to a computer, ensure your new employees workstation and personal login are ready for their first day. Theres nothing more frustrating than making countless calls to an IT department or using a coworkers login for the first week. Not only can this make new employees feel uncomfortable, but it can make them think the team didnt put in the time necessary to prepare for their arrival. Other documents such as tax forms, health insurance, and banking information should be streamlined in the onboarding process.

Process Makes Perfect

Onboarding should be personalized but should also follow the process you go through with each of your clients, vendors, and employees. Digital strategist Jennifer Bourn suggests onboarding clients should include forms and questionnaires to gather the information you need for a good client-business relationship. Onboarding can also involve the provision of training tools and resources that will help a client, vendor, or employee understand the work you will be doing for or with them. Both these actions will help gain trust and confidence from the start.

Get Your Team Involved

Onboarding shouldnt be confined to a Human Resources department.

Chances are a number of employees are going to be working with a new client or vendor. Have them involved in the onboarding process in one way or another. Whether its as simple as inviting them to a meeting, or having them give a presentation about their role, its important to introduce key characters early on. People work better together when theyve met one another.

For a new employee, this can involve having a more experienced coworker serve as a professional mentor or buddy. For example, if the new employee will be working in the Customer Service department, have a senior member of that team brief them on their role. This will start creating social relationships within the workplace. As a bonus, it will also foster inner-team leadership and show a tenured team member you trust them with the very important task of taking a new employee under their wing.

Remember Why Youre Unique

Youre presumably working with your new client or vendor because they liked what they heard during initial meetings. Thinking back to these pre-meetings is important for onboarding. What were the unique elements of your business that resonated then? What were their concerns? Considering this will help you reinforce positive elements during onboarding. Reaffirm these elements during a kick off phone call or an in person meeting where you discuss the project.

Employees are often attracted not just to work but to workplace culture. This is especially true for the Millennial generation. A good onboarding process should not only focus on the professional elements of the job. Introduce employees to non-logistical elements such as how they can sign up for the office softball league, join the team for post-Friday work beers, as well as any other perks your company may offer.

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

Communication is important both during and after onboarding.

Sit with employees at the end of onboarding and talk about how it went. Are there questions following week one? Do you have feedback that will help in coming weeks? Touching base after onboarding is a good way to begin building regular communication between employees and their team, as well as show that their opinion is valued.

Regular meetings should also be held with clients and vendors. This will allow you to ask or confirm any project roles or responsibilities and will serve to reaffirm your professionalism with those groups.

With the above tips in mind, youre now ready to onboard like a pro!



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