ATD Blog

Give Your New Employee a Big Head Start Before Day One

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

This is the fourth in a series of five posts about establishing a total onboarding program. Onboarding involves acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members to ensure rapid success in their new roles.

Once you have successfully recruited new employees, you now want to focus on setting them up for success before they start. There are three steps toward that goal:

  • Co-create a personal onboarding plan.
  • Manage the announcement to set the stage for success. 
  • Help your employee be ready and able to do real work on day one. 

Co-Create a Personal Onboarding Plan 

We call the time after job acceptance and day one the “fuzzy front end.” Use this time to create a personal onboarding plan with the new employee’s manager. The plan includes:

Definition of the role: The recruiting brief described in an earlier post provides the basis for a discussion with the new employee that results in agreement on the expectations of the job, the urgency for change, characteristics needed for success, and why the new employee was selected for the job.

Stakeholders: The plan also includes a jointly developed prioritized list of key stakeholders. This list can come from the organizational chart, but it should go beyond to the beginnings of an informal network. New employees have the opportunity to be learners as they set up plans to speak with key people. We recommend these meetings start before day one.


Specific plan of action: The actions, with deadlines, in the first 100 days that will propel the employee to success. More on that in the next post. 

Manage the Announcement to Set the Stage for Success 

The need for change and the specific expectations of the job provide a backdrop for preparing an announcement, which is the first step in implementing an overall message and communication plan. This builds on the foundation of why the new employee was chosen and what the individual values.


The announcement will be the only communication many people will have for some time until personal contact. It should be crafted carefully; you want people to be excited. 

Help Your Employee Be Ready and Able to Do Real Work on Day One 

Taking charge of the fuzzy front end means actively seeking out information about the challenges ahead. This can include telephone or in-person meetings with key stakeholders, reading about the employee’s specific function and performance information, and making sure logistics like office, computer, and benefits are taken care of.

A specific plan for day one is also part of the preparation. Set a schedule for whom the new employee will meet and when. This set of prestart steps should result in an enthusiastic, well-prepared employee who has a clear plan for success.

About the Author

George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his experience as a business leader, consultant, and journalist. He progressed through sales, marketing, and general management roles around the world at companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and J.D. Power’s Power Information Network spin-off as chief executive. Now he is a principal of CEO Connection and managing director of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis.

George is a graduate of Harvard and Wharton (MBA), co-author of four books on onboarding, including The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, and co-author of a weekly column on, The New Leader’s Playbook.

About the Author

Ed Bancroft is part of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis, which helps new leaders and teams get done in their first 100 days what would normally take six to 12 months, jump-starting strategic, operating, and organizational processes and reducing new leader failure rates from 40 to 5 percent. He is co-author of Onboarding, The Total Onboarding Program, and The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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