What is onboarding? And why should you place intentional focus here as a leader, for yourself, for your team, and for your new hires?
Onboarding, first and foremost, is different from training … think of a nice car with old, beat up tires - you need both to make the vehicle run, and having a nice car AND nice tires, makes the car run that much more smoothly and effective Training would be considered the knowledge needed to perform technical skills in your role: best practices, technology systems, and equipment, etc. From my perspective, you can bucket onboarding into the following three pillars: VISUALIZATION, SOCIALIZATION, and EXPECTATION.
Structure your onboarding plan for new team members to gain insight and guide the new hire in visualizing where they fit in(through interactions, conversations, and behaviors) into the vision and values of the organization. Some questions we would want this to answer for our new hire may include: What does the organization stand for? Where are we going? How do I fit in? What behaviors do we practice when working towards our vision in terms of high performance and values?
Schedule time for the new team member to meet with as many people on the team as they can – those they will work with directly, those that work in complementary departments, those who have been there a short time, and a long time. This will not only help everyone get to know one another, but the new team members learn about different aspects and functions of the organization. Plus, we all like to feel welcomed into a brand new environment.
We have all been the new person on the team – we want to see into the organizational vision and feel a part of the team. But we also want to know how we can we plug in and add value. One very important question we can help clarify for new hires is asking what does good look like? Everyone has a different version of what “good” is, and setting these expectations from the beginning will help create the path for high performance.
So, we have defined onboarding and how this could be outlined and tailored, but why should you put an intentional focus here as a leader, for yourself, for your team, and for your new hires? The first 90 days for a new team member are critical. Research shows, a new hire decides within the first few months if they are going to stay with the company long term, or if they are just going to bide their time until a better opportunity arises.
At this point, you may be thinking it’s time to overhaul your onboarding, and you may be right. Most organizations don’t have a thoroughly detailed plan for onboarding. Here are a few important first steps we suggest to complete prior to their first day:
- Begin with communication. Prior to the start for any new team member, send them a relevant, thought provoking article you read, or leave them a note or voicemail sharing your excitement for their start day (and have team members do this too!)
- Build an onboarding binder to include a schedule of meetings (observations, introductions, and trainings) for the first (at least) 2 weeks, organizational policies, a team “roster” with head shots, important contacts (ex: current client list if applicable), any HR/organizational paperwork
- Make sure their desk is set up with everything they need for their first day, maybe this is a computer, notebook, some office supplies, organizational swag, etc.
- Set up technology on their computer (email, systems, software, etc) and schedule their first 2 weeks into their Outlook to correspond with their onboarding binder.
Shoot them a note about first day logistics so there’s no room for confusion. Try and remember they will feel like they are drinking from a fire hose, and they don’t know what they don’t know yet! We can all lead by example and contribute here to the bottom line by onboarding new team members effectively, so they can not only feel welcomed and a part of the team, but start adding value sooner!
Do you need guidance developing or evolving your onboarding program? Tap into some of the resources we have and let’s have a conversation.