Congratulations, you’ve selected the ideal consultant to bring on to your team. You want to get started on the right foot and make it easy for that individual to orient to your company and quickly contribute in their role. The time before onboarding and those initial weeks can set the tone for success and you’ll want to cover all bases: compliance, performance measures, cultural orientation, and social integration. These processes go well beyond the first day. Some companies think in terms of the first 90–100 days. Others, especially those using contract-to-hire arrangements for key positions, are pushing the boundaries to a year-long period of education, nurturing, and building trust.
One of the reasons companies rely on staffing firms is because they technically employ the consultant. Along with this employer responsibility come duties like tax withholding, I-9s, and payroll processing. Many staffing firms have online systems to facilitate completion of the initial employee documentation and benefit enrollment, as well as additional forms that you may require, including handbook or policy acknowledgment, and confidentiality and non-compete agreements. With the staffing company in play for these items, a hiring manager is free to focus on managing the on-site orientation experience.
Your new hire will need a comfortable, clean workstation with access to any tools, portals, and platforms required for the job. It’s also important to manage the set-up process for furniture, equipment, phone, IDs, email, badges and authorizations with your security, IT and/or HR departments.
Additionally, offering a peer as a resource or “office buddy” gives your new consultant a way to ask questions they otherwise might not want to “bother” you about as they complete items on your internal orientation checklist. This office buddy might also be a good candidate to take your new consultant on their initial office or building tour, and to share ideas on where to park or grab a quick breakfast, coffee, or lunch.
Consultants are eager to show their experience, and no one likes being left at a desk, feeling unsure about how to contribute. The foundation for a good working relationship is a clearly defined scope of work with project measurements and milestones or a written list of assignments with expectations, dependencies, deliverables, and any soft or hard deadlines. You’ll want to walk through this document during your first meeting about the role, and chat about expectations for the consultant’s workflow, daily tasks, and what success looks like in the short and long term. Be sure to plan time for feedback from the consultant on how things are going, especially during those first several weeks.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
-Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and author of five books, including The Infinite Game
The expression of your company culture, its values, and how communication flows between groups and people is revealed beginning with the new consultant’s orientation. New hires are eager to contribute, so think about fun ways to engage them. Consider roundtable discussions, mentoring, site visits, shadowing, informal catch-ups, videos, training and workshops, and personal introductions to key people. The more you can include the consultant in your celebrations and company rituals, the more quickly they can bond with your team and become part of your culture.
Socialization preserves continuity for an organization. As individuals gain an understanding of the history, true values, and culture of an organization, they consciously and unconsciously modify their behavior to fit the standards. Socialization takes place informally (around the proverbial water cooler), as well as during formal mentoring by more-senior employees. Social learning can account for up to 90% of what employees learn at work.
As your new consultant acclimates to your culture, engages with and is accepted by your team, they echo those behaviors that align with your purpose and values. This is often when “things click” and “getting things done” can become “living the dream”—a winning scenario for all parties.