Montessori Staff Onboarding 101: How To Set Your New Hires Up For Success!
Onboarding is the process of welcoming and integrating new employees into your workspace. It is an ongoing process that requires planning, strategy, and constant care. Onboarding a new hire effectively has become an extremely important part of the staffing process. Great onboarding begins before a new hire is brought on to the team.
There are many reasons why you should consider having a good onboarding strategy for your school:
- It reduces employee turnover: When people feel properly integrated into their workspace, they are less likely to leave. You have helped them build a strong foundation in your workplace.
- It allows productivity to start: When employees know what to do and all the resources they have available, they can start being productive from the beginning.
- It allows your employee to understand their role better: Good onboarding allows new hires to understand exactly what is expected of them and to set strong goals in their new role.
- It reduces workplace anxiety: When your new staff enters your space with support, clear guidelines, and a warm welcome, it makes them feel safe.
So, let's talk about what a good onboarding process looks like and what your Montessori school can do to welcome new hires so that they feel confident in their new place of work...
Part One: Before your New Hire Begins
Preparing for day one is an important phase of the process. Ensuring that everything is in order helps to make the new hire's first day seamless and positive.
Candidates actually want to know what’s expected of them before they arrive on their first day. They want to feel prepared and arrive with a sense of purpose.
Let’s walk through the best practices for preparing for new employees.
- Provision employees before they arrive: Make sure to have everything ready for their arrival: an email address, portal log-in, uniforms (if your school enforces them), and anything else that they will need starting on their first day.
- Have paperwork ready: No one likes paperwork! It is best to have everything in order. Make a list of everything your new hire needs to have/complete by their first day such as background checks and documentation. On their first day make sure to go over paperwork such as their employee contract, workplace agreements, code of conduct, and payroll documentation.
- Make sure your team is prepared: Brief your team on your new hire. Get them ready by sharing the news and how this employee's role will help the school community. This shows great communication and leadership.
- Share the expectations for the first day: Send the new hire an outline of what they can expect from their first day. A welcome meeting, an introduction to the team, paperwork, and a schedule. This will allow them to feel prepared and ready to embrace their new role.
Part Two: The First Day
Walking into a new workplace can feel intimidating. A new guide, assistant, or administrative worker can feel unnerved by entering a new school community. It is through great onboarding that your school can ensure that staff members settle in seamlessly.
It is really important that all new hires have a good idea of what they can expect on their first working day. Consider this an orientation! The first day at work is a time to focus on the welcoming experience, introduce the team, and set the tone for your workplace culture.
Let’s walk through some of the best practices for a successful first day of work...
- Assign your new hire to shadow a current member of staff: You can call it shadowing, a buddy, or mentor! It is great to assign someone who is experienced with the community to support that new hire throughout their first day. This person can introduce them to the rest of the team, give them a proper tour, make sure they understand the rules of your school community, etc.
- Live your Montessori culture: You want to start building a strong foundation on day one, so talking about Montessori is key. Make sure to explain thoroughly the culture of your community, use the proper language, and ask your new hire to simply observe how calm and peaceful your classroom environments are.
- Create a detailed to-do list and gather resources for support: You want to avoid over-informing your new hire on day one. Instead, create a detailed checklist of tasks that makes sense for them to complete in the first day. Gather all other resources such as good reads on Montessori, any training you want them to complete, employee handbook, etc., and have those resources ready for them to review and complete within the first week. If you want a great onboarding checklist and guide, you can download the one we made specifically for Montessori in our Montessori Thrive Collection!
- Be sure to set goals and express expectations: Good onboarding sets employees up for success. It is important to meet with your new hire one on one and have them set realistic goals for their first day, week, and year there. It can start off with meeting everyone in the office, saying hello to the parents, to leading a successful group time. It is important to check-in and make sure they feel supported!
Part Three: You've Welcomed Them, Now What?
Your new employee had a great first day. They met the team, feel settled, and understand your workplace culture and expectations. Now What?
Let us jump forward 6 months, 1 year... or even years later. It is important to check-in and see how you and the community are connecting with that employee over time. Has that employee felt happy and fulfilled in their role? Have they been a great asset to your community? Have they developed professionally? How is their mental health doing?
Many people don't realize that great onboarding looks far beyond the first few days! So let's take a look at some things that you can be doing to help your staff members truly thrive in their roles...
- Create opportunities for meaningful connections: It takes a collective effort to ensure a healthy workspace. There are many benefits in doing things to create healthy connections. Treat your staff to lunches on an in-service day, take your team out for a special dinner after a successful academic year, and celebrate birthdays. These small things can make all the difference.
- Continue to set new goals with them: All members of staff should be setting goals for each academic school year. They can be the same every year, or they can develop as their profession does. It is great to have ongoing one-on-one meetings to make sure your team members are happy and feel that they are doing purposeful work.
- Continue to inspire new hires: When leading a school, staff members will come and go. It is key to continue inspiring your new hires so that everyone feels welcomed and can establish goals.
- Celebrate wins: When members of staff do great work, they should be recognized. No win is too small! You can offer a personal "well done" or "thank you," or you can choose to celebrate wins in team meetings or emails.
- Always aim to improve: It is important to get feedback from your employees. Each time you onboard a new employee, ask them if they felt that anything was missed.
Support = Success
Want to know how other Montessori schools are tackling onboarding and other key leadership responsibilities? You don't have to do it alone!
We have an online forum for Montessori school leaders on Montessori Thrive where you can ask questions and connect with other school leaders.