Welcoming a New Employee to Your Nonprofit
When our social enterprise welcomes a new team member, such as a fundraising coach, we pull out all of the stops. We do this because we understand that when someone joins our team, the person doesn't know what to expect. For instance, the new team member doesn't yet understand the culture of the organization. Also, they don’t really know about the leadership team. Sure, the candidate might have interviewed with you and several members of the team, but now you are working together. That's an entirely different experience.
When someone new comes on board with us, we do everything to have them feel welcome. By doing so, we believe we increase the chances of success. As a matter of fact, as a nonprofit leader, making sure that new team members feel welcome is your responsibility.
So, how can you welcome new employees so that they hit the ground running from the first day?
Setting the tone is critical. Therefore, the following are some tips and ideas that we've used at our fundraising company. Here are ideas you can use at your nonprofit:
You want to set the tone right from the start. So, even before a new team member walks in the door, you can give them a warm welcome. For instance, you can send a note or give them an encouraging call the day before to check-in. Once they are in your office, a nice touch is to have the words "Welcome" at the entrance. Other things you can do is have your team share a card that everyone has signed, or place a fun welcome message on the person's computer screen.
How Do You Take Your Coffee?
You might have seen it in your past experiences, I know I have. It's when someone new wants a cup of coffee, but no one has shown them the coffee machine or how to use it. So, assign someone to greet the new employee early on their first day. This person should walk the new team member around the office. Allow the employee to get familiar with everything, including where the coffee machine is and how to use it. And, of course, showing someone the lavatory and any other necessary spaces is always a good idea.
Get the Set-Up Done
When someone starts a new job, many are a bit anxious. So, get everything set up, so they aren’t sitting in a chair and wondering what to do next. I've seen that happen, and it's awkward and painful to watch. Therefore, set-up everything in advance, including credentials and passwords. In your internal communications system, send them a message. Make sure to include a complete list of everything they need to do to get settled (e.g. benefits, contact information, training manuals).
Prepare an Agenda
As we all know, preparation is vital for anything related to success. When you prepare, everyone on your team benefits. Thus, something thoughtful you can do for your new team member is to develop an onboarding agenda. By doing it and even sending it to them in advance of their start date, you help them understand what's expected of them. Remember that information is empowering.
Getting to Know You
One of the best things you can do for a new employee and your team is to do an icebreaker. By doing an icebreaker, you encourage everyone to get to know each other — and you break down walls. One way to do it is during lunchtime. Get a few pizzas and drinks, and let people get to know each other in fun ways. In case you need some ideas, there are plenty of meeting icebreakers that can help your new team members.
I Don’t Know How To….
When someone new gets started, there's typically a learning curve. For instance, not only do they have to get familiar with processes, but even with technical tools they may not have ever used. After the first day, usually, people get busy. And of course, you want to move the new person to work independently as quickly as possible. Still, questions arise. Thus, one of the best approaches is to have them write down everything they have a question for on a piece of paper. At some point, each day during the first week, someone should be designated to speak to them, and answer their questions or get the new person in touch with the right person.
In sum, new team members in your nonprofit team can be stressful, and that's natural. People sometimes get uncomfortable with the unknown. However, these tips and ideas should help your nonprofit organization onboard someone new. One more thing, if your nonprofit is a volunteer-based group, some of these ideas can also help you ease in new volunteers.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.