Providing Strategic Early Feedback During Onboarding Couldn’t Make More Business Sense

Providing Strategic Early Feedback During Onboarding Couldn’t Make More Business Sense

Just 21 percent of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, according to a Gallup survey

A major part of the problem is many managers don’t give employees the frequency of feedback they want and need. Employees who’ve had conversations with their managers in the last six months about their goals and successes are nearly three times more likely than others to be engaged—and motivated—in their work.

Millennials, the largest generational group in the workplace, have an especially high desire to receive feedback, other surveys have found. One millennial stated at the 2017 World at Work Total Rewards Conference, “I can't envision working a whole year without hearing how I'm doing. I want to know how my performance is, what needs to be improved and what is going well so I know which direction to [focus on]."

Providing frequent feedback makes a ton of sense for employers, too. As coaches and human resources consultants, we’re often asked how particular situations could have been avoided or how employees could have been “saved,” and our answer is usually “feedback.”

To succeed with feedback, it’s important to start providing feedback from the very beginning of your relationship with an employee—during onboarding. Doing so has a number of powerful benefits, including:

  1. New hires feel valued. In today’s candidate-friendly job market, it’s critical that employees feel valued to support retention and reduce turnover. When you provide feedback from the outset, it can help confirm to new hires that they made the right decision when they decided to join your organization. Plus, it shows that their performance and success matters to your organization, and sets the stage for frequent feedback, both in positive and constructive forms.
  2. New hires become proficient faster. Early feedback allows you to identify and address performance issues and training needs quickly. This can include making improvements in how new hires are working together with and integrating with their teams. The end result: new employees become net contributors sooner and fewer new hires fail.
  3. New hires adapt better and faster to your culture and their teams. Early feedback during onboarding differs from performance feedback in one key aspect: it allows new employees to see specifically how they are or aren’t integrating into the culture of your organization. Onboarding feedback goes beyond just the deliverables of the job and the metrics that are typically used in performance management to evaluate how well new employees are integrating into their new roles, as well as how others are perceiving them. For best results, this feedback should be strategic and include data-driven insights. Surveys that measure fit and gather data about perceptions and conversations with peers, team members, the new employee’s manager, and any other key stakeholders can collect hard evidence of how a new employee is transitioning and integrating into the job.
  4. It helps make feedback a habit, supporting a learning culture. Providing regular feedback—both formally and informally—is a great habit to create. It supports employee engagement, performance and loyalty and promotes an open, honest culture that values learning and development.

Five Key Steps to Building Feedback Into the Onboarding Process

Early feedback needs to be a top priority during onboarding. It’s not enough to have managers meet with new hires to have conversations about how the new job is going and how well they’re integrating with the team. No, for best results feedback needs to be strategic, structured and evidence-based, just like the overall onboarding process.

Here are five key steps for getting the most benefit from early feedback:

  1. Match metrics to specific onboarding objectives.
  2. Collect quantitative and qualitative data.
  3. Include all participants.
  4. Collect data as early as 45 days and no later than 60 days from a new employee’s start date.
  5. Report results for both how well the individual is onboarding and how effectively the organization is supporting the new employee’s onboarding.

Keep Feedback Going

Early feedback isn’t enough. It’s just a starting point. Feedback needs to be ongoing throughout the employee lifecycle. Once employees have completed your onboarding process, continue to provide them with performance feedback and coaching to promote engagement, performance improvement and retention.

Our consultants can help improve your organization’s onboarding, including building early feedback into the process, boosting new-hire performance and retention. To learn how our coaches and consultants can help you create and carry out effective onboarding plans, contact us at 855-316-8161 or