The First Assignment - Human Resources at Ohio State

Manager Guide to Onboarding New Employees

for managers of staff employees

The First Assignment

The first assignment is significant for several reasons. When all goes well, it builds confidence in the new role, positions the employee for a successful start and helps to establish trusting relationships between the employee, the manager and co-workers.

First assignment steps

To ensure the first assignment is successful, follow these steps to set expectations and outcomes.

Define the assignment.

  • Describe how it aligns with the university and department/unit goals, priorities, values and initiatives.
  • What impact will this assignment have on the university, department/unit?
  • Who will benefit from the outcome (students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, volunteers, others)?

Share expectations of the assignment.

  • What are the expectations for this assignment?
  • What is the priority of the assignment for the employee?
  • What will be the end result of the assignment? Will it be newly created or updated?
  • What will the desired outcome look like? (Provide examples, if possible.)
  • How will success be measured?

Describe the parameters of the assignment.

  • What actions or steps are required?
  • What resources will be needed?
  • What resource limitations may apply?
  • What are the deadlines? Will there be milestones to meet prior to the final deadline?
  • How will progress be monitored?
  • How often should progress be shared?

Define the decision-making process.

  • Should the employee carry out exact instructions?
  • Should the employee bring recommendations to be decided by you, as the manager?
  • What recommendations should the two of you decide together?
  • If the new employee has the authority to make decisions, should they inform you before acting?
  • Will the new employee have the authority to make decisions, act, and inform you of the outcome?
  • Who else is impacted by the decisions and needs to be included in the conversation?

Determine partnerships.

  • Who can influence success?
  • Who will the employee need to consult? (Ensure they know how to contact relevant individuals.)
  • Who will the employee need to ask for resources?

Identify potential challenges and determine how they will be addressed.

  • What could possibly interrupt or stand in the way of success in this assignment?
  • How should any potential barrier be resolved?

During the assignment

Continue to check in to ensure clear expectations are established and understood. Encourage questions and clarify how you will support their success. Celebrate milestone successes along the way.

Following completion of the assignment

Debrief with the new employee to gain their perspective on what went well and what was challenging. The employee should also share what they learned and perhaps a new skill they developed through the process. The conversation should include the assignment’s outcomes, how their interaction with other employees went and what may have been done differently. This follow-up conversation is important to continue to build your relationship and will help shape the success of the next assignment.