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Written on January 19, 2023

How to set onboarding goals (and why they’re essential)

How to set onboarding goals (and why they’re essential)

Goal setting is an important part of learning any new skill or embarking on any new project. So it comes as no surprise that setting goals is also an important part of creating a fantastic onboarding experience.

After all, if we aren’t tracking metrics, it’s hard to know whether what we’re doing is working. This means that successes could be passing us by before we can even realize it. In this article, we’ll suggest a number of onboarding goals that you could set to make sure that your process is smooth for everyone involved.

Why are onboarding goals essential? 

Setting up onboarding goals is a vital part of designing an onboarding process. Not only does setting onboarding goals set you up to be able to give yourself and your team a well-earned “pat on the back” at the end of your onboarding process, but it also does a great job of setting expectations for both the hiring manager and the newcomer. 

Onboarding goals can be organized into three different categories: learn, grow, and master. “Learn” goals are the most obvious and consist of introducing a new hire to the expectations and performance indicators of their new role. 

“Growth” goals go beyond the introduction phase and include goals that ensure new hires have cemented themselves within the team and can handle tasks autonomously. Lastly, “master” goals—which occur only after a new hire has been in their new position for at least three months—means setting goals that reflect the newcomers status as an active contributor. 

Below are a selection of goals that relate to the three categories of learn, grow, and master. If you can deliver on any of the below goals, then you know you’re on the right track to an impressive tenure. 

Six great onboarding goals to set 

Goal 1: the new hire will get to know their team (learn)

Starting a new job is hard. A big part of this is likely because a new job delivers a lot of unknowns, and uncertainty is a major stress contributor for most people. To make matters worse, new hires don’t know any of their coworkers yet, which makes it harder for them to orient themselves and access a support system.

Add a remote environment to the mix, and it’s even harder. For all of its perks, there is sometimes just no replacement for those coworker coffee breaks that help new hires acclimate. 

You can help melt away some of your team’s uncertainty by properly introducing them to their coworkers and helping them situate themselves within the ecosystem of your organization. 

Introductions can look like real team-building experiences that give everyone involved a chance to learn a thing or two about their new coworkers as well as small icebreakers that create a simple but friendly connection between two people who will likely seldom work with one another. 

By the end of your onboarding process, your new hire should understand not only their role, but the roles of those around them, and should have had a proper introduction to the majority (if not all) of the teammates that they will be working alongside. 

🎯 The goal: Team integration

💡 Ideas for implementation: Orientation sessions, team lunches, manager 1:1, etc.

📊How to measure it: your new hire has met all key people in your organization

Goal 2: the new hire will have a sense of psychological safety (learn)

Psychological safety in the workplace is a topic that has gained more traction lately, and rightfully so. In short, psychological safety means that every person in a workplace feels safe to share themselves—whether through their ideas, thoughts, questions, etc—without being belittled or ridiculed. 

Psychological safety isn’t a given, and must be cultivated. Your onboarding period is the optimal time to encourage a strong sense of psychological safety. It goes beyond friendly meetings to include things like ice-breaking games, happy hours, and any other activities that make an effort to get to know your newcomer as the human being they are. 

🎯 The goal: Psychological safety.

💡 Ideas for implementation: “Get to know you” sessions, ice breakers, games, 1:1 check-ins.

📊How to measure it: is the feedback that you’ve received positive? Would your new hire feel comfortable reaching out to request feedback if they need to? 

Goal 3: your new hire will understand their job perks and benefits (learn)

Even if we would rather onboarding just be about big, exciting ideas, there are always going to be practical topics to discover at the start of any new job. However, this doesn’t mean that these practical sessions have to be boring. You can provide your new hires with fun, laidback sessions that allow them to easily absorb the many perks and benefits offered by their new position. 

This is a great opportunity to get them excited about the many positive parts of their new position. You can also add in other HR-related sessions like company policies, processes, and procedures. 

🎯 The goal: Understand perks and benefits.

💡 Ideas for implementation: Welcome meeting with HR, benefits intro session, overview of company policies and processes.

📊How to measure it: has your new hire received a benefits booklet and had an opportunity to ask questions?  

Goal 4: your employee will understand the basics of what their job entails (growth)

This one might seem like it goes without saying. But there is so much to uncover during an onboarding experience that it would be easy to breeze past the practical expressions that each job entails. 

It’s not possible to create an expert overnight. That takes time. But by the end of your one, two, or three week onboarding sessions, your employee should feel set up for success. They should know which software they’ll be using, which tasks they’ll be in charge of, and should know which communication tools that your company uses (as well as key people to work with). 

🎯 The goal: Learn more about your role and expectations.

💡 Ideas for implementation: Intro session to company communications and brand guidelines, hands-on software training, product hands-on experience, sample calendar.

📊How to measure it: is your new hire able to do basic tasks and deliver assets with assistance from their peers?  

Goal 5: your new hire will have some foresight (growth)

Most work environments are fast-paced and should change overnight. However, you should still try to give your new hire as much clarity as possible when it comes to what the first few months in their role will look like. 

A great way to do this is by aligning them with company goals from the beginning. For example, it could look like sharing your existing quarterly goals or including your new hire in a quarterly planning session if the timing is right. 

🎯 The goal: Learn to master the role and responsibilities.

💡 Ideas for implementation: Quarterly planning session, inspiring readings, company goals.

📊How to measure it: can your new hire perform autonomous tasks without assistance?  

Goal 6: your new hire is engaged and feels at home (master)

We’ve talked a lot about the stressors of a new job, but at the end of the day, it should feel exciting! A new job is a fresh start and a sign of career development. 

You can help ensure your new hire feels excited by letting them in on company values that make employees proud of what they do. You can also help foster a sense of excitement by reinforcing any new initiatives down the road and even highlighting things like upcoming company events. 

🎯 The goal: Alignment.

💡 Ideas for implementation: inspiring reading material, plans for upcoming company events.

📊How to measure it: onboarding has confirmed that this position is what the new hire was looking for.

Of course, the specific goals for each onboarding process will depend on the organization, job role, and the length of the onboarding process. But what all goals have in common is that they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive (easily remembered as the acronym “SMART”). 

No matter what onboarding goals look like at your org, you can find a fitting template at SoftStart. Start your free trial today.

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