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Mel Gravely

The 10 Commandments of Onboarding your Head Start Staff

head start employee onboarding

Employees are one of the most important resources we have in Head Start. Last week, we announced a new training, Onboarding your Head Start Staff. While we have always included elements of employee onboarding in our trainings, as part of our comprehensive Knowledge Management system, we have separated onboarding into its own stand-alone training.

With that in mind, we wanted to release some rules to live – and work – by for a divine onboarding experience, called the 10 Commandments of Onboarding your Head Start Staff:

  1. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy employee. Few things are more disappointing than the realization that the job you thought you were hired to do is sorely different than what you’re actually doing. . Misrepresenting your staff’s new role destroys trust in you immediately, after which no amount of orientation efforts can undo the initial damage.
  2. Thou shalt give an updated written plan of employee objectives and responsibilities. A written plan detailing objectives, strategy and performance standards helps diminish any confusion about a new staff’s job functions and instead opens up the floor to discuss concerns or new opportunities.
  3. Thou shalt give they employee thy undivided attention. Letting email, phone calls or other employees distract you during orientation sessions sends the message, “I’m just not that into you” and kills morale. Prepare a checklist of subjects to review with your new employees, set aside the appropriate amount of time to do it, and let others in the program know that you are not to be interrupted while you are orienting your new workers.
  4. Thou shalt have relevant paperwork ready. Make sure all Head Start administrative forms – such as employment, direct deposit and benefits – are ready to be completed on day one so you don’t have to waste time dealing with it later.
  5. Thou shalt introduce thy employee to thy neighbors. This is a good time to assign a mentor or buddy to the new hire as an immediate resource for any questions and key information about organizational culture and goals.
  6. Thou shall set up thy employee’s workstation. Before the employee arrives on day one, stock his or her workstation with everything from paper and pens to keys. Make sure the phone and computer, complete with voicemail and e-mail accounts, are set up. Leave a copy of the phone directory on the new hire’s desk. Just a little sign that says “Welcome to Head Start” makes a big difference.
  7. Thou shalt schedule one-on-one time to ensure you connect regularly with the new employee. If you can’t do this on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, schedule meetings to provide feedback at 30- and 90-day checkpoints.
  8. Thou shalt create a balance. The first day is always tough. Vary the first day’s schedule by including less formal gatherings between meetings.
  9. Thou shalt clarify the company culture. Again, to avoid future confusion (or embarrassment), provide the employee with company information, policies including dress code and late policies and benefits.
  10. Thou shalt think beyond the first few days. After 90 days, requeest formal feedback on the new hire’s performance from his or her supervisor, and be sure to solicit feedback from the employee.

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