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How To Create Successful Employees

successful employees

Imagine you hire a new employee, show the person to his workstation, and leave him to it.  On the first morning.

What do you think his chances of success would be? Pretty low.

And yet, this kind of thing happens all the time in business.

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Employers hire people mostly for skill set. With this practice can come the belief that the person is ready to roll on day one.

So, once new hires have filled out all of their paperwork and been shown where the bathrooms are — they are let loose to do their job. The result can be less than stellar performance and everyone ends up unhappy.

Hiring right is the first step to future success. The second, and equally important, step to creating successful employees is onboarding.

The onboarding process is critical and should cover these three areas to set the new employee up for success:

Create a Culture Impression

All companies have a culture. Make sure new hires understand your company’s culture from day one.

Spend time reviewing policies, setting expectations, and outlining company communication streams. This helps new hires embrace how all employees work together toward a common goal.

Understanding culture is one place where having a team approach can be impactful. Have a team of employees — not just managers —  meet with new hires to welcome them. Hearing how things work from peers can be just as valuable as hearing it from HR.

New hires are less likely to be intimidated by peers and more likely to open up and ask questions.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Don’t assume your new hire knows everything about his or her position — no matter how much past experience the person has.

All companies do things differently.  Take the time to review not only what the job is but how the employee will be evaluated. Now’s the time to tell everything.  Explain how you define success in the role.

When people know what’s expected, they have a better chance to be successful employees.

Point Out Resources

Make sure all new employees are aware of the resources available to them. These include things like manuals, records, computer programs, and people to answer questions. Don’t expect a new employee to figure it out or just plain know these things. It may seem like common sense to you, but remember, you’ve been there for a while.

Try to walk in the new person’s shoes.  If you were new, what would you want to know? What would your concerns be? What would help you in your quest to do a good job?

The best way to lay the foundation for successful employees is to make sure they have what they need from day one.

It’s easier to spend the time up front than to have to fix things later on. This is especially true when we consider what a lack of effective onboarding can do to someone’s attitude and self esteem.

Creating Better Employees photo by Shutterstock


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

11 Reactions
  1. Right. It is all about making them feel successful. For example, one employee is able to finish five tasks in one company and the other one does 3 in another. Who will feel successful? Not really the person who did more but the person who is acknowledged more for what he or she has done.

  2. I think you have create successful employees if you apply the trader principle throughout the organization. It is a two-way street, building on the know-like-trust process.

  3. another factor would be assessing the applicant first in all aspects. you’ll know it right away if he or she is just faking the answers for the interview.

  4. Diane – Excellent point. Onboarding is as important as hiring the right candidate. Unfortunately, not many people pay enough attention to it.They just bring someone, throw him / her in the middle of action and as ask them to figure out on the go. Providing an experienced buddy to the newcomer is an excellent way to get the new guy up to speed quickly in the new environment.

  5. When I was engaged as a senior consultant (independent) for a national healthcare organization who had a local Ohio presence, I created onboarding 3-ring bound notebooks for each new hire and contractor.

    The very organized notebook included active links to the phone directory and email addresses, SharePoint project folders, profiles of each key stakeholder and standard project templates. Additionally I prepared an overview sheet for each project assigned to the person, so he/she knew where the project stood (time and budget), who was responsible for what, key standing meetings including date, times and locations, etc.

    Not only were the employees/contractors able to ramp up quickly, but the company was presented in a very strong light, e.g., the company cares enough about me to position me for success Day 1.

    My time investment was small…the payback was huge.

    Great article, Diane! Thank you!

    • Ah Gwen, you are a rockstar! It’s so great to hear from someone who really gets it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. So great to see so many who truly understand the value of setting people up for success. The investment of time and energy is invaluable and repaid many times over.

  7. Suzanne Tierney

    I have three new hires right now. God help us all. I have given them wings and a platform to fly from. I am anxious to see where they fly or even if they flop. I hope they soar. Time will tell.

    • As long as you give them the resources they need and ensure they understand the expectations – and consequences of meeting (or not) those expectations they should be fine. Part of the process is holding firm to the consequences so they learn to believe them.

      • I enjoyed Suzanne’s “I have given them wings and a platform to fly” comment!

        Great advice Diane…articulating clear expectations and associated consequences!

        Oftentimes overlooked techniques (based on my experience)…setting expectations that are time-boxed and measurable plus assigning date-driven tangible deliverables, e.g., evidence-based performance (removing squishy subjectivity whenever possible). A very objective and crisp way to lead and manage…hold teams and people accountable to goals and behaviors…reward and celebrate employees’ successes…and address performance shortfalls.

        I genuinely wish more organizations/leaders would apply Diane’s sage advice!

  8. Gwen,
    I couldn’t agree more and thank you for your input. I love the idea of objective instead of subjective.

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