Onboard Like a Boss. 3 Ways to Keep Someone Else’s Employee


Few of your teammates officially report to you, but your first few days with a new hire are crucial to ensuring your own success.The way you handle their first days will set the tone for years of success or frustration. Here is how to send your new team member home feeling excited about day 2.

1. I’m Not Your Boss But You’re Worth My Time

Make sure to spend at least two full hours with the new hire. What you do is up to you (take him to lunch), but be sure he knows the most important thing on your agenda began with his name. For legal or personal reasons, an indirect report can tell you things they may not tell their boss. Establish yourself as a sounding board for frustrations and a safe place to send very silly questions.

2. First Swing Home Run

While onboarding, make sure your new team member knows how she can win. Few things are as frustrating as putting in extra effort and having no impact. But if her role is clear then her first project has a chance at being a home run. Put clarity first and worry about micromanagement later.

3. A 10 Minute Rule

Get results for his first questions or requests within 10 minutes. Does he need credentials for the company wiki? Is something on his laptop not working? Set the tone that says “our job is to make sure you have everything you need – NOW” rather than “email that guy you don’t know 3000 miles away and he’ll get back to you in 3 days – read this 400 page manual until then.” A 10 minute target is difficult to hit and can’t persist forever, but you have the chance to set the bar very, very high.

It’s Their Job to Overreact

So say Thank You.

If you work in anything resembling a ‘product team’, you have the responsibility to combine a multitude of perspectives into something resembling a business plan. For this reason, I believe that empathy is one of the most underemphasized qualities necessary for a successful Product Manager (in the Pragmatic sense).

Someone with a more siloed role is paid (not encouraged, but expressly given money and a business card) to treat their perspective as the most important perspective in the business.

So when someone screams ‘the sky is falling’, remember that means they’re awesome.

And say thank you.