100 days – not just for Presidents.

With an election in the USA less than two months away, there will be much talk about the first 100 days if there is to be a new President.  This was first used by FDR to promise swift progress on his New Deal upon taking office in 1933.

So why is this of any use to a business about to hire a new employee?  A factory taking delivery of a new machine would be expected to have every eventuality covered to ensure that the machine will be productive, if not on day one then as soon as possible.  If this did not happen then pointed questions would rightly be asked of the management concerned about their failure to extract maximum value from its assets.

How many employees walk into a new job where a plan exists that maximises their chances of becoming productive as soon as possible?  Day One in a new job is often a dull procession of administrative minutiae, tours of coffee machines and introductions to large numbers of colleagues without any plan for helping the new person prioritise who is key to their effectiveness.

Imagine a recruitment process where the final candidate(s) were given a copy of the plan for their first 100 days.  Excluding any commercially sensitive information this would ensure that the objectives of the new role were not only being considered by the candidate but also by the interviewer(s).

This process is often known as ‘On Boarding’ (personally I don’t like the name but haven’t come up with a better alternative as yet).  It ensures that all people involved in the process and especially the new employee themselves are given the maximum opportunity to become successful as soon as possible.

 

What are the key elements to On Boarding?

Any administrative matters should either be handled prior to Day One or only those of utmost priority be covered during the key early hours.  As an aside, you will note I have capitalised ‘Day One’ as I see this as vital barometer of how the rest of the time will be.  First impressions and all that.  All current employees who are a part of the On Boarding plan should be aware of how they fit in.  There should be no instances of the new employee being a surprise to anyone.

The rest of the plan should detail the key elements of Day One, first week, first month and then the rest of the 100 days.  Ruthless prioritisation is key in drawing up the plan – if it isn’t vital to immediate success then it should be left until later in the period.

 

Who should be responsible for drawing up the On Boarding plan?

While a template approach is likely to be of use to ensure no key elements are overlooked, the detail is more individual.  This should not be a plan that is left to the Office Manager / Team Assistant / HR team but must be owned by the manager of the incoming employee.  After all, it is they who should benefit from the success of their new team member.

 

I have set out below a very simple On Boarding plan which could form the basis for a more detailed template for your organisation.

 

Prior to Day One

  • All administrative tasks are to be handled in advance (right to work check, pre-employment screening, bank details, tax forms, new email address, office arrangement, laptop, PC, phone etc)
  • Relevant company information (excluding any items that are confidential or business sensitive)
  • List of personal objectives and, if available, job description
  • Write the On Boarding Plan (excluding any sensitive information) and give to all relevant people as well as new employee
  • Devise key contacts list.  This is not a “who to call to get more stationery” but groups of people that the employee needs to meet, why meeting them is important and a guide to prioritising these meetings.  For example the ‘importance rating’ is not how senior the person is but how key they are to the success of the new employee.  Such groups could be the senior management, their peer group, direct reports, other key internal contacts and key external contacts
  • Consider any mentoring opportunity eg another manager and/or a peer of the new employee

Day One

  • Manager gives overview of the business
  • Review objectives and job responsibilities
  • Review On Boarding plan
  • Give employee list of key contacts and help them prioritise the meetings
  • Ensure the critical technology is in place
  • Start key meetings

Days two to five

  • Meet with Manager regularly to monitor progress, resolve queries and get assistance with any concerns arising from initial meetings

End of first month

  • Informal review with Manager who has sought informal feedback from key contacts of the employee

Day 50

  • Review employee’s objectives they were given on joining.  Discuss progress against objectives with employee.  Use this meeting to identify where there are any blocks to progress ie unhelpful key contacts, employee not prioritising objectives, process issues, employee not focusing on important objectives
  • Revise employee’s objectives if appropriate

Day 100

  • Seek detailed and formal feedback from employee’s contacts and use as part of a detailed review with employee
  • Review progress against On Boarding plan and employee’s objectives

 

This is just a general outline and each business will find the steps that suit them but the key message is to set out a plan that enables the individual to succeed.  We have all seen situations where someone is proverbially thrown in at the deep end and these plans help avoid the drowning (to continue the analogy).

I would be interested to hear your views and experience of situations where there has been an absence of planning or where you have seen these work.  Finally, if you have a better name for this than On Boarding it would be good to know.