Mistakes to avoid Onboarding engineering teams

Onboarding 101: learn how people in your organization get paid.

If you’re a people manager and don’t know what the process is to get someone paid on time, make sure you become familiar with it.

Similar to “Tell them When, Where and How to show up” this is another “simple” mistake with a big impact. It seems so simple to avoid… but if it happens it makes your company or team look incompetent, or simply like you don’t care enough about the new person in your team.

Here it goes. A mistake to avoid:

Not paying the first month’s salary on time.

It’s obvious, right? Someone works for you, you pay their salary. I’d never think this happens until it happened to me.

I was working with a great team, having a great month… and when pay day came, my salary wasn’t there. The first day, I didn’t think much of it. After all, delays may have been the fault of the bank. By the fourth day, I was pretty sure something awful had happened.

It turns out, the outsourced company that handled our monthly salary payments didn’t have my information on file from the first day, and that caused delays on the process later on.

“I haven’t been paid… do you know what’s going on?”

If you do your homework, even if/when this happens, you will have an answer to help them

One day, you’re happily working with your team. The next day your pay isn’t there, and you’re left to wonder if this place is being managed correctly. Who are these people, after all? You only just met most of them.

When you don’t already have a high trust relationship and something like this happen, it can be a big blip on the company’s record. It may not matter right away if nothing bad happened due to the delay, but it won’t be forgotten instantly, either.

Get familiar with the process used to get people paid for the first time.

I don’t work in Finance. I’ve never worked in an HR department. But because of early experiences I had, I’ve often been the person nagging other departments to ensure pay would be sent on time to my direct reports, that their contracts were sent in a timely fashion, and that all the basic things were covered on their day-1 onboarding.

I know how it feels when money is not in your account on the day you expect it. I know what it’s like when your contract hasn’t been signed by your managers, and you’re not sure what that means for you. It’s little things, in that they can be fixed in 5 minutes… but it’s hugely important to get them right, or we are risking breaking people’s trust.

If you’re a people manager and don’t know what the process is to get someone paid on time, make sure you become familiar with it. It can be as simple as asking Finance “Is all the information for Jane up to date in the system? I’m just going through my checklist.” or as involved as asking for a demo on how this is handled. A simple “I’m curious about this part of onboarding a new employee, can you tell me more about the process?” can help you understand the parts of the process that can go wrong, and if you ask “How can I be helpful?” they may even let you know of a simple thing you can do to avoid silly, completely avoidable, but ultimately bad mistakes.

Isn’t this micromanaging another team?

Maybe! That’s an excellent point. And to that, what I will say is that it’s your job to learn how your organization works. If you are fully confident that this could never happen, and you understand how the paperwork moves through the organization? Go right ahead and ignore it.

If you’re not quite sure why and how you get paid? Please, ask someone in HR or Finance to do you the favor of teaching you how these things work so that you can sleep soundly at night. Would you look down on someone from another department if they ask you to explain tech debt? Probably not. I know I love it when I can collaborate across disciplines to improve the organization. This isn’t that different. When I’ve done it, I’ve always been wiser about our org after the fact. You don’t have to be a jerk about it. You can just ask a few questions. The key here is that you’re ultimately going to be responsible for this person’s onboarding and their performance, and it’s going to be on you to keep things running smoothly.

Not paying someone on time is the kind of mistake that looks bad on everyone, not just the person writing the checks.

Humans make mistakes, it’s not a big deal.

I agree. I make mistakes too. Big or small, we all mess up something at some point (sometimes, a lot… I’ve been there!)

It’s unreasonable to expect that nothing will go wrong, ever. But the truth is that paying people on time is a baseline expectation that must be met. As managers, we can be helpful in ensuring things get done on time for our directs.

If it ever happens, and it’s the result of human error, and you understand the process well enough to explain it to your direct report? You’ll be in much more solid ground than if you’re just as confused as they are.

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