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How to Onboard a New Employee or Team Member

How to Onboard a New Employee or Team Member

Jenn DeWall, Denver based,  Millennial Leadership & Confidence Coach & Leadership Keynote Speaker

You have a new employee starting first thing in the morning. You want to make a strong first impression so you ensure their equipment is ready, logins are working, and plan your first meeting with them to welcome them to the team (or hopefully you are doing this!). In the meeting, you talk about their role, key points of contact, and your expectations. Sound familiar? It’s the same old song and dance but there is one very important piece missing --- understanding their leadership needs. More specifically, how they want to be led. Why does this matter? When you understand more about their needs and preferences, you’re better able to take actions that result in improved morale, engagement, and increased motivation.

Here are six questions to ask every new hire or new team member to build a strong relationship.

How do you like to be recognized? Many people assume employees like public recognition, however, some people prefer it done privately. This is a great first question as it allows you to understand their personality and preferences for recognition. If they are someone who prefers private recognition but you do it publicly, you may cause them to pull back to avoid future public recognition or discomfort.

What motivates you? Are they motivated by money? New experiences and challenges? Time off? If you want to empower peak performance you need to understand what motivates them. Sometimes managers make the mistake of assuming their employee is motivated in the same ways as others. For example, if you try to motivate someone with money when they prefer time off, you may not see the same increase in drive and performance because you are not using the appropriate motivational tool.

What do you enjoy doing? Or said another way, “how do you like to add value?” When you understand what they enjoy doing, you can delegate more effectively, and this can improve morale. Think of a time a manager assigned something to you that you absolutely hated, but there was someone on your team who loved it and vice-versa? In this case, both employees’ morale dipped as they were focused on tasks that didn’t leverage their strengths. If possible, maximize your delegation by assigning tasks that align with an employee’s strengths. Addressing this question can create happier teams and even improve productivity.

How can I best support you? Do you want to meet weekly or bi-weekly? How do you want me to follow up with you? By asking these questions you’re giving them the chance to tell you the support they prefer, and it can help reduce micro-managing, alleviate redundant meetings, and streamline communication.

How do you want to receive feedback? Would you prefer it on the spot or in a one-on-one meeting? Do you like it to the point or maybe softened? Believe it or not, some people hate when managers avoid being direct. Understand the type of communication and feedback style that works best for them so you can be sure your feedback helps them grow, not shut down.


What else should I know about you? Asking this question allows for your new team member to share insights into who they are as a whole person. Maybe they are a parent, and they need to make school pick up so they have to leave work at a certain time every day. Or maybe they are pursuing a degree outside of work. This question is a great opportunity to start to get to know them as a whole person, which demonstrates support and is a great way to build trust.


Jenn DeWall is a leadership and confidence coach, motivational speaker, leadership facilitator, and podcast host. Jenn is a Millennial leadership expert based in Denver, CO. Jenn is passionate about helping leaders learn how to build confidence and show up authentically to build human-centered cultures. 

Book Jenn for your next event.

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