Roadmap for Setting New Staff Up for Success

The “roadmap” below will walk you through four key steps for nailing a new staff member’s first three weeks: how to be crystal clear about expectations (both overall and on specific key projects), how to build feedback into the relationship right away, how to share the playbook for how things work on your team, and how to be sure the person has the tools and skills she’ll need to be successful from the start.

___(Manager’s)_______ plan to set ___(staff member)_______ up for success 

4 key steps for nailing the first 3 weeks:

  1. Be crystal clear about expectations overall and on specific key projects.
  2. Build feedback into your relationship right away on the spot as needed, and building in opportunities into your regular work with the person.
  3. Share the playbook be clear about how you’re working together.
  4. Make sure the person has the skills they need to be successful from the beginning.

Step 1: Be crystal clear about expectations – overall goals and specific projects

☐ Make sure the person has clear 6-week* goals.

Most staff members do better (and feel better) when they have a clear picture of what’s expected of them, and this is particularly true for new staff. It helps them put their energy toward the top priorities, and to gauge where they’re on track.

In some cases, it may make sense to break those into bigger buckets – for example, where they should be in terms of understanding the organization and/or campaigns, and what they should have accomplished in their own realm.

* Could be anywhere from 4 weeks to 10 or 12 weeks; pick what works for you.

Template 6-Week Goals

Organizational/background understanding

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Things to accomplish

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Sample Field Organizer 6-Week Goals

Organizational/background understanding

  • Be able to deliver an accurate, compelling 1-minute overview of Citizens for a Better World, who we are, what we do, and how your campaign fits in to what we’re working for
  • Be able to talk with confidence about your campaign
  • Build relationships with staff so that you could comfortably pick up the phone and ask for input or a favor from anyone
  • Learn our data and tracking systems, be comfortable using them

Campaign product

  • Build leader relationships – have a team of 4 city leaders who care about this issue and agree that they want to meet regularly
  • Build coalition relationships – you’re in 2 of our 5 target coalitions and own those relationships
  • Build policy relationships – you’ve had a meeting with at least 1 elected official and 2 journalists, where there is some momentum or next steps coming out of the meeting
  • Hold 6 individual meetings with potential leaders by the end of week 6

☐ Be clear about what success looks like on key projects. 

What are 1-2 projects coming up where you want to make sure to be clear about the 5 Ws? (For example, the press conference the staff person is running in 2 weeks, or the meeting they’re holding with a key coalition member.)

  • _____
  • _____

Refresher on the 5 Ws: Who is involved/MOCHA, What does success look like, Where can I go for resources, When is the project due, Why is it important?

 

Step 2: Build feedback into your relationship right away – on the spot as needed, and building opportunities into your regular work with the person

Some good ways to do this: seeing people in action, taking slices of their work, doing regular debriefs, and including reflections and feedback in your check-ins.

☐ What are 3 ways that you will build feedback into your work with the person in the first 3 weeks?

___ I will see the person in action doing these 2 things (for example, their first press conference, phone bank or indy meeting):

  • _____
  • _____

___ I will take slices of these 2 projects (for example, how they’re recruiting for their press conference, and planning for their house party):

  • _____
  • _____

___ I will schedule a 1:1 debrief with them right now for after these 2 projects (for example, their first phone bank, press conference, or indy meeting they do on their own):

  • _____
  • _____

___ I will plan time in our check-ins each week for feedback, including asking them ahead of time to reflect on plusses/lessons learned from the week.

 

Step 3: Share the playbook (be clear about how you’ll work together)

Often we have ideas about how our staff or teams will operate that we assume everyone else knows. The key is to take any implicit assumptions you have and make the implicit explicit – so that everyone is working from the same playbook.

Even if new staff members get information about how the organization at large operates from somewhere else (for example, via a formal orientation session led by someone else), as a manager you’ll still want to walk through the playbook with each of your staff members – both to reinforce key messages about the organization and to lay out specifics about how you’ll operate on your team.

☐ Spend a few minutes thinking through the key pieces to share and schedule time specifically to walk through them.

Sample topics to cover to share the playbook

  • Expectations – I’ll try my best to be clear about expectations, but you should ask if you’re ever not clear about something – particularly if you’re not clear what success looks like on a project or what the result is we’re aiming for.
  • Feedback – As a team we value feedback, and I tend to be direct in giving feedback. And we’re all constantly working to figure out ways to improve everything that we’re doing. Specifically, I’m excited to find ways to see you in action and take slices of your work, particularly as we’re just beginning to work together, so that I can have a lens into the work you’re doing and share any thoughts I have. And beyond that, we’ll carve out time in our weekly check-ins to reflect on how things are going – I’ll ask you to come with thoughts from the week of what went well and any lessons learned. We’ll also schedule regular debriefs for any projects that are new for you or particularly important.
  • Repeat-backs – I want to make sure we’re on the same page as much as we possibly can be, and I know that can be hard so I’ll often ask you to do repeat-backs when we’re talking through priorities or upcoming projects.

Topics I will cover to share the playbook:

  • _____
  • _____
  • _____

Step 4: Make sure the person has the skills they need to be successful from the beginning

☐ Look at the 6-week goals you’ve set and identify the top 2-3 skills your new staff person will need to be successful.

☐ Make a plan to make sure the person has those 2-3 skills early on. You don’t have to make them perfect right away – they’ll learn a lot as they go – but you do want to set them up for success, including being able to hit the 6-week goals.

Sample training plan for new organizer

Skill Plan to teach
Doing great individual meetings
  • 10-min training on Why and How
  • She shadows me doing 2
  • I shadow her doing 2, and we prep together and debrief
  • We prep together for the first 2 she’s doing on her own, and debrief them
  • I take another slice (either walking through prep and debriefing for a couple, or sitting in on a couple) in a month

Template training plan

Skill Plan to teach
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