Remote managers: Here’s how to bond with your new hires

As a hiring manager in today’s tight job market, you know that top candidates have options. The last thing you want is to see your new hire walk back out of a revolving door – so retention’s the name of the game. Your job as a manager is to ensure they confidently settle into the new culture and set the foundation for a lasting relationship. That can be particularly challenging in a remote environment.

Here’s how to bridge the virtual gap to build a solid relationship with your new hires, beginning on day one.

1. Get the ball rolling on building rapport.

New hires are anxious to get to know you and make a strong impression, so be just as eager to do the same. Within the first few days, schedule a one-on-one, informal virtual coffee or lunch, and make it a regular, recurring meeting on your calendar. Give them an early opportunity to connect with you personally and professionally. This should be treated as a non-negotiable commitment on your end and canceled only in case of an unavoidable conflict.

You remember what it was like to be the new kid on the block, so be the one to extend a lifeline. Help them socialize and get to know the team by assigning an onboarding buddy and create opportunities whenever possible for them to form friendly, collegial relationships with colleagues.

2. Make analog connections IRL and offline.

If your new remote hire is local, plan to meet up for coffee, lunch or dinner. If you have a local office, schedule occasional meetings in-house. If not. and budgets and circumstances permit, fly them into headquarters for meetings every so often or plan to meet at an industry conference or training within the first few months.

Even if you’re not likely to meet IRL any time soon, you can still create a greater sense of connection with the company. To build team spirit, our clients often ship a first-day welcome drop in the form of a gift bag full of branded swag. Popular items include a company T-shirt, water bottle, mug, a goodie bag full of snacks, and desk accessories. If it comes directly from you and you check up on it, that’ll make a difference in how much they value it.

3. Become their biggest advocate.

Consider it your personal goal to champion your new hire’s smooth start. Even if the company already has an established virtual onboarding process, don’t be hands-off and expect human resources or training and development to handle everything.

Make sure your new hire has the right tools, resources, and access to the required systems and knowledge needed to get the job done. Tune in to what they’re learning about the company and the role and be prepared to fill in the blanks. Things slip through the cracks and you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring they receive the support they need from day one.

4. Be an open book.

No matter how many times a new hire has read the job description, there are always aspects of the job they can’t fully understand until they’re in the role. And they’re drinking from a fire hose the first few weeks, so don’t expect them to know or remember everything. Let them know what’s most important, what they should look out for, and who they need to know.

As you open up to your new direct report, try to put aside any worries you may have about them potentially not working out long-term. You’ll be more likely to set them up for success by being as transparent, candid, and generous with information as you realistically can be, as early as possible. As their manager, the best way to show goodwill and establish trust is to become their best go-to source for reliable information from the start.

5. Bring them into the mix.

Invite new remote hires into key conversations, collaborations and decisions, even before they are fully integrated into their role. Encourage them to speak up while still learning how things are done around the company. Let them know their buy-in is important, and explicitly state that their contributions and outside perspective are welcome. They’ll appreciate this, coming from you.

This also applies to team updates and wins; even if the work happened before they started, include them in the “we” that accomplished a goal. The sooner they feel connected to the team goals, the better.

6. Show some grace.

Everyone needs sufficient time to ramp up. Allow room for learning and mistakes. Your job isn’t to micromanage, find fault or be overly critical, but to be a coach and encourage growth. If your new hire is off to a rocky start, what can you do to make their job easier?

If they don’t seem to be fitting in or catching on, maybe they need a little more help acclimating. People aren’t perfect, but they can become great. Don’t lose a good employee over an oversight, miscommunication or lack of support on your end.

7. Offer generous feedback.

Don’t leave your new hire in the dark about how things are going from your perspective.

If they aren’t making progress, get to the bottom of what’s happening and determine what you can do to pave a path for improvement. If things are going well, talk about growth, advancement and opportunities within the organization as early as possible. You want them to feel as if there is a future for them at the company and begin seeing themselves as part of that future.

Welcome new hires home.

Managers play a key role in any new hire’s experience – perhaps the most important role. Be the reason they feel at home in the new position and equipped to put forth their best effort. A strong relationship with a supportive manager can make all the difference in reducing turnover down the road.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your F+L talent expert with questions about the onboarding process. We have insight into the candidate and can help advise you on the best way to ensure a strong ramp-up period. Our role doesn’t end when the candidate is placed!