How To Improve Onboarding Through Coaching

How To Improve Onboarding Through Coaching

So. It’s that time. You’ve just hired a new employee for your startup, and you’re wondering what’s next. Onboarding is often referenced to as the ‘probationary period,’ but it’s so much more than that. Employee success is company success – and it’s crucial to have a program for setting your new hires up for success. If you’ve got this in place already, great! If not, here are some steps you can take to successfully onboard new employees, using a coaching-focused approach.


Coaching Session #1: Review and Preparation – Review your interview notes prior to this session and then share your observations with the new employee. Explore some opportunities where you can each work together, drawing on one another’s strengths. This is a great way to be proactive and set some goals and expectations through the onboarding process. Ask open ended questions regarding what their goals are and what they want to get out of the coaching, onboarding and this position. If you used a personality assessment tool during the hiring process, this is a great time to review the results and bolster your observations from the interview with your new hire.

Coaching Session #2: Leadership – If leadership is part of the role, explore their leadership experience and abilities, and discuss how they’ll implement these skills in their new position. What’s their style of management? How will they work with employees who are top performers versus low performers? What’s their style of managing accountability and building trust with others? If leadership isn’t part of their role, this is a great opportunity to explore how they might interact with someone in a leadership position. What style of leadership will work best for or with this person?

Coaching Session #3: SalesIf you’ve hired a salesperson, then it’s important to explore their methods for closing deals. You probably discussed this in the interview process, so it might be time to ask some coaching questions or set KPIs that can help support them in successfully achieving their sales goals. If the position doesn’t deal with sales, explore how this person sells themself, and how they might need to sell other staff on ideas or changes within the organization.

Coaching Session #4: Drive & Motivation – What are the motivating factors for this new employee? What drives them? What makes them want to give more than expected? How do they approach time management? How do they plan to manage all that’s expected of them in this new role? What’s their game plan for tackling this new journey? These are just a few exploratory questions that can be started within the coaching session.

Pro Tip: Lots of hiring but no time to run the onboarding process yourself? Maybe it’s time to hire an HR full-timer.

Coaching Session #5: Review & Refocus – During this session, explore what’s been working and what hasn’t so far for both of you. Explore the employee’s strengths and areas of development, and identify the steps needed to make adjustments. Schedule this session roughly halfway through your new hire’s probationary period, so everyone can get back on the path to success.

Coaching Session #6: Key Competencies – Review key competencies that are required for the role, and explore which ones come more easily than others for the employee. Provide coaching and feedback for areas of development, and make sure that each area of development includes a clear plan for improvement. Remember to balance improvements with observations of early success – this session should be a positive one!

Coaching Session #7: Culture – Another topic that likely came up in the interview but should be re-examined. Discuss the integration of your company’s mission, vision and values in the way your new hire does their work. Aligning their projects to the company mission can be a great motivator.

Coaching Session #8: Key Relationships – Who does this person report to? Who reports to this person? How are those relationships going? If there’s any strain in relationships already, provide your new hire with details that may be helpful. If you use a personality assessment tool, this is another opportunity to use that information: is it possible that any strained relationships are due to a misunderstanding of that person’s personality profile? Explore that in this session.

Coaching Session #9: Goal Review – Discuss the goals you set early on. Where do they stand at this point? What are the next steps?

Coaching Session #10: Final Review – Address successes so far and any red flags at this point. What duties are they fulfilling and how’s that going for them? What are their successes to date? What duties are that not fulfilling and what’s the reason for that? What still needs to be worked on?

By scheduling these coaching sessions at the point of hire and addressing the suggested points of focus, you’ll have a plan in place that sets your new hire – and your company – up for success. Onboarding new employees is never easy, but it’s certainly easier when the lines of communication are wide open, and an openness to collaborate is prevalent throughout the process. Obviously, there’s no limit to how many coaching sessions you can do, but consider this a guideline to balance the number of check-ins with the amount of time needed for your new hire to do their job well. With some more regular sessions with your new hires, you should see a boost in confidence, communication – and employee retention.

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