Conversation Guide: Engage in Conversation - Human Resources at Ohio State

Manager Guide to Onboarding New Employees

for managers of staff employees

Conversation Guide: Engage in Conversation

Conversations help build a successful relationship between the employee and the manager. Engage in these conversations at various times throughout the onboarding process. Refer back to the questions – ask them more than once. Remember the purpose of these conversations is to get to know your new employee and to build a trusting relationship. Listening is your role in these conversations.

Communication Scenarios

Provide an overview of the university and college/unit organizational structure. Describe how the work of the team fits into the structure. Describe how their role fits into the structure.

  • Describe your clients/customers/audience.
  • Share the general perception of the unit or department and the team.
  • Describe the history behind your department/team.
  • Describe the specific services the department and team provide to others.
  • Share the deliverables – what things are measured or tracked, and reported?
  • Provide the team’s strategy and the team goals.
  • Describe the key priorities, challenges and opportunities, both short and long-term.
  • Describe how the department and team support the vision and strategic initiatives for their unit and the university.
  • Share commonly used acronyms and abbreviations.
Determine the preferred means of communication
  • Do you prefer formal/informal, email/voicemail? How often do you like updates? How does your preference influence how and when you choose to receive information?
  • What’s the best way to discuss issues or challenges the employee faces? How would you want to be notified of an emergency or illness?
Set the expectation for communication with the employee
  • Will you have one-on-one meetings? How often will they occur? Who will schedule them?
  • What’s the format and how are topics selected or prioritized? Who leads the meeting?

Important: Individual meetings can improve morale by helping a new employee realize they are heard and valued. Use one-on-one sessions to inquire about the new employee’s goals, skills and interests.

What’s my style? What’s your style?
  • Share your leadership/management style, such as what’s important to you, your values and how much feedback they can expect from you.
  • Share your definition of top performance.
  • Ask what you can do to support them and support their growth and development.
  • Ask about their previous managers and have them describe a relationship that worked well and one that was more challenging. Talk about the different styles and what leadership style really resonates with them.
  • Ask how they like to be managed – (structure vs. autonomy; as part of a team or prefers to work alone, etc.)
Expectation Setting – what needs to get done first?
  • Share your expectations of the new employee and their role.
  • Explain what you hope them to accomplish in the next month, three months, six months, year.
  • Let the new employee know the biggest priority for them right now.
  • Provide the names of people they should connect with to help them learn their role and better understand the university.
Engagement from the start by asking questions
  • What motivates or excites you?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • Describe recent accomplishments that make you proud.
  • What do you believe are your areas of strength or talent?
  • Describe some of your recent biggest challenges. How did you work through them?
  • What knowledge, skills and experience do you hope to use in your first year at Ohio State?
Tell me more…
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  • While the objective is for you to get to know your new employee, it is important that they get to know you as well. Ask, “Is there anything you want to ask or know about me?”
Questions for debriefing introductory meetings

Prior to the meeting explain the individual’s role at the university and how individuals in these positions could interact with the new employee’s position. After the meeting ask:

  • How did it go?
  • What did you learn?
  • Do you have any questions regarding the information covered?
  • How can this individual be a resource to you?
  • What information did you find helpful or applicable?
  • Is there a plan to follow-up?
Reflection questions to use after a learning session:
  • What was the topic of the learning?
  • What new/important information did you take away?
  • What information did you find useful?
  • Is there additional learning on this topic that needs to be done or that you would like to do?
  • What did you learn in your session that you anticipate using in your work? Discuss how the training benefits the employee in his/her new role.
  • Was there any information you did not understand or that was unclear?
  • Is there anything you learned that you feel would be important to share with the team (or others)? How and when would you like to share that learning?