Can You Adapt to Employees' Different Skill Levels and Backgrounds?

There are many factors to consider when hiring a new employee. There are the obvious defined duties, responsibilities, and tasks that will be required for the new employee to fulfill. Additionally, there are many non-essential qualifications that an employer may ask for that can be an asset to the role. These contribute to a person’s “fit” within the team and organization.

New employees can come from a variety of backgrounds with varying experience, so it is important for an employer to meet new hires with appropriate expectations and meeting new hires “where they are.”

An effective onboarding program is essential in transitioning an accepted applicant into a productive employee. One of the biggest factors to consider when designing and implementing an onboarding program are the new employee themselves.

How much does this employee already know about the organization and what is his or her experience level? Regardless of the answers to these questions, all new employees want to know how their role fits into the organization.

Onboarding is more than orientation, it is a process. Orientation is the first step in the onboarding process and the full process should likely take three to six months or more.

The onboarding process helps new hires become happy contributors and conveys the organizational brand, value, and culture while aligning expectations and performance measures.

Here are some points to consider when implementing an onboarding plan specific to a new hire:

  • Policy: Clearly outlined company procedures/policies
  • Schedule: Clearly documented schedule with well-defined expectations
  • Socialization: Ensure the new hire has met all coworkers and knows who to communicate with for different needs
  • Regular communications: This is key in managing expectations and dealing with issues as they arise

Regular communication is the key point when considering meeting new hires where they are. To align an organization’s expectations with the new hire’s expectations, clear communication and regular meetings to check on progress are good ways to ensure everyone is on the same page.

These points on designing an onboarding plan are nowhere near comprehensive, but they provide a great starting point for developing a plan that takes into consideration the new hire’s perspective.

The purpose of an onboarding plan is to retain the investment of the new hire and to coach him or her to become a productive team member within a clearly defined timeline.

Editor’s Note: Carolyn Lee is with To learn more about motivating a new hire, check out this article from This article appeared in the June issue of Farm Journal's PORK: check out more articles here.