HR Consultant - McGeachy Consulting




Posts in Performance Management
Onboarding is the ‘secret sauce’ to cultivating great team

As published in the Vancouver Business Journal on July 20, 2018


Sixty-nine percent of employees who experience a proper on-boarding stay on the job for three years. If that’s not enough to catch your attention consider this: 20 percent of turnover happens in the first 45 days (Click Boarding).

We know that no business sets out to create an environment of chaos or one that is unwelcoming or even one that is boring, but new hires frequently report that their on-boarding is all three. New hires often report that they don’t have enough to do. Sitting at a desk or workstation staring at the computer with nothing to do to be productive is dreadful. And, it happens to new hires frequently.

An onboarding plan is a method by which a company acclimates, engages and retains new employees (Society of Human Resource Management). On-boarding is the secret sauce to cultivating a great team.

What should be included in an onboarding plan?


Before the First Day:

  • Stay connected to your new recruit between the offer and their first day.
  • Start on-boarding before your new team member’s first day by sending a welcome email or even a video greeting. This email will tell the employee what time and where to arrive on the first day of work, what they should wear and perhaps a bit about their first-day schedule. It will also convey how excited you are that the team member is coming to work for you.
  • Share the news with your current team about your new hire, their start date, and some details about their background. Proactive communication with your team will help create an inviting environment for the new hires’ first day and transparency for your workforce.
  • Mail a card to the new hire signed by the entire team.


First Day:

  • The ideal first day should have a fully booked agenda with minimal downtime. Okay, just a little to let the employee login to systems and email. But not too much or things get boring. Naturally, the first day will include a meeting with their manager and also Human Resources or Payroll for important first-day paperwork.
  • Show team members that you are expecting their arrival by creating a new hire welcome kit and have it sitting on their desk on the first day. Perhaps add some company swag in the form of a water bottle, coffee mug or company logo-wear to their welcome kit.
  • Power-up their workstation to include all necessary supplies, technology, usernames and passwords that will be important for their work. If applicable order business cards, name tag, and ID badge before their first day.
  • Provide a tour of the office along with introductions. Also, include a map of workstations so that they can easily find team members after the tour. Give new hires access to an employee directory and organizational chart.
  • Take the new hire to lunch. Make a plan to take the new team member to lunch either in a group or 1:1.
  • End of day wrap-up. Schedule a check-in at the end of the first day. Ask what went well and what could have gone better to gather insight as you plan for the remainder of their on-boarding. Repeat this check-in often.


Beyond the First Day:

  • Create a schedule for the first two to three weeks. Pre-set essential meetings throughout the first weeks so that the new hire knows what to expect. Ideas include: meetings with business leaders, meetings with peers, having them sit in or join a special task force or project.
  • Plan a formal sit down, or 1:1, with the manager and new employee at 30, 60 and 90 days.
  • Assign ramp-up goals. What should the new hire accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
  • Schedule time for the new team member to train on all aspects of the business, not only their department. Cross-training and introductions to all departments in the first weeks can be helpful.
  • Ask the new hire to rate his/her on-boarding at the end of 90 days. What went well? What could have gone better?


How long is the onboarding process?

A full 90 days. Yes, it is more intense upfront with the first day planned out by every hour. As the on-boarding progresses, you can check in and guide less frequently. Managers fail though when they stop engaging with their new hire after the first two to three weeks and assume they are all set.

The ideal scenario with onboarding is that a business recruits a talented superstar and they meet their superstardom beginning on the first day. Engage them, train them and set them free to contribute their talents to the business. On-boarding can go one of two ways: an employee reports to their friends and family that “it’s fine,” or they report, perhaps even brag on social media, that they “made the best career decision ever.” It’s your choice.


Amy McGeachy, PHR, is an HR consultant in Southwest Washington and the founder of McGeachy Consulting and The Exceptional Workplace. She has spent nearly a decade working hands-on with small business owners to cultivate their workforce and create the kind of businesses they’re proud to lead.

The Annual Performance Review is Dead, Now What?

It’s been a slow death, but the Annual Performance Review is for the most part, dead. Soon, we will no longer hear about the annual performance review from companies large or small. It’s a giant, unproductive exercise in project management for the CEO or HR leader with ineffective outcomes.

If you’re like most of the small business leaders that I know you have...

  • Decided not to performance reviews anymore
  • Forgot, ignored and have not done performance reviews in the past 1-2 years
  • Never did annual performance reviews




Why are annual performance reviews so darn ineffective?

  1. They are a recap of a year’s worth of performance. The employees in the 2018 workplace want to spend time looking at the present and the future. They don’t want to look back at 12 months of performance whether it was good or bad. They are asking, what’s next for me, now? What’s coming in the next 3 months?

  2. Our workplaces are fast-paced.. Employees and employers need to have more regular communication about performance and waiting 12 months between reviews is simply too long to build any momentum or plan for development.

  3. Managers were never really good at them. That’s right, when you do something only one time per year you never really get in a steady cadence to be consistent and effective. Besides, most managers begrudgingly did them just to check to a box.

And, I’m sorry! I have pushed the annual performance review in the past and even rolled out new systems to organizations. With a lack of employee/employer feedback it feels like an obvious tool to communicate but alas I think we can do better. We can communicate in better ways to create workplaces where feedback, goal setting, and coaching are frequent and executed with ease.

Now What?

Small businesses are embracing quarterly reviews. This can be a game changer for your culture, business goals aligned with individual goals, and communication. Let’s look at why and how to do this right.

I am a humongous fan of dropping the annual performance review and replacing it with quarterly reviews. This can be a game changer for your culture when business goals aligned with individual goals and communication. Let’s talk more about why and how to do this right.



5 Benefits of Quarterly Reviews

  1. Cadence - Setting a quarterly cadence helps keep the goals top-of-mind and allows managers and employees to get good at having quarterly performance dialog.

  2. Set achievable, top-of-mind, goals - Set goals that set are small bites (or at least bites of a bigger goal) which makes them easier to digest and accomplish.

  3. Accountability - With a quarterly cadence, and setting meetings in advance, there is accountability built into the process.

  4. Lightweight - Quarterly review are lightweight. They should be thought of a process that is used to manage performance and not an annual event that you do.

  5. Feed Forward - Annual reviews were a tool to provide feedback. Think of quarterly reviews as a way to feed forward and look ahead at goals and performance for the coming quarter.


Here is how to start implementing a quarterly review process

Follow these steps below or use our Quarterly Performance Goals download to get started. The download includes a how-to guide, sample review, and a fillable PDF and it can be found on this site under Premium Content.  

Lay the Foundation - Develop a structure for your quarterly reviews including basic guidelines (who, what, when, where, why and how). Communicate the process to your team and allow time for questions. Also, communicate your goal for continuous improvement in this process. For example, at first we are going to start by using only 3 questions and a 1-page the future, we may add questions and perhaps even utilize software to help manage the quarterly reviews.

Monitor and Improve - Once everyone has completed the first round of dialog seek feedback. Ask managers and ask employees so that you can get a sense of how things went. Look at the results of the review conversations (the quarterly review forms or documentation) for feedback.


Sample Quarterly Review Questions

Assuming you and your team member know the company’s overall goal and mission for the year let the quarterly review be a dialog. Both of you will come prepared to chat and come to an agreement on the following questions:

The beginning of the quarter:

  • What are your goals for the quarter?
  • How will you make progress towards those goal(s) this quarter?
  • What tools and resources will you need to accomplish your goals?
  • How does your goal contribute to the company’s overall business goals?

The end of the quarter:

  • What was your biggest accomplishment in the past quarter?
  • Describe where you struggled
  • What’s one thing that could be going better?

Then, document what has been discussed (Google Doc, blank piece of paper, napkin, use this guide, whatever!) and make sure that both the employee and the manager get a copy.

Set a date for the next quarterly review 3 months out. Rinse and repeat.

Keep this process lightweight. One downfall of the ‘annual performance review’ has been the heavy burden that it creates for people. Your goal by changing your process is to make it effective and simple. If it’s too heavy and difficult you’re doing something wrong.


Download your How-to Guide and Quarterly Performance Goals Worksheet. Your guide to ditching the annual performance review and replacing it with employee-driven, actionable quarterly goals.

Ready ditch the annual performance review and replace it with employee-driven actionable quarterly goals? Consider joining The Exceptional Workplace premium content. There you will find the intuitive How-to Guide and a Quarterly Performance Goals Worksheet specifically curated for small and medium-sized businesses. Download your copy today and get started.



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