After hiring, onboarding is the next most important process to have the right person in the organization. Onboarding, at most companies, predominately consists of the mechanics of getting the employee into the system (payroll, IT, security, etc.) and then they are thrown into the middle of the lake. If they manage to make it to the shore, they are part of the team. Until they get to shore or drown (get fired or resign), the organization suffers from an ineffective employee. Too often there is a perceived urgency that the position needs to be filled immediately and they were hired with the requisite skills.
Both assumptions are wrong.
If the position is new or has been vacant, the organization has been adapting to the vacancy. Another four weeks to properly onboard the employee as a trade-off to a long tenured and impactful employee is easy to justify. Even if interim resources are needed, the cost is small compared to the risk of the employee “drowning in the lake”. Step back with the leadership team, assess how to close the organization gap while the position is vacant, and then commit to the onboarding process.
Regarding skills, the new hire may have been evaluated for identified skills, whether technical or industry specific, but they don’t know how to be effective in your company. Onboarding is intended to close this gap. This will teach them to swim and get to shore quickly.
There is nothing magic about four weeks as it will depend on the company size, role responsibilities and number of locations. Most important is dedicated time during the onboarding process, before assuming their role full-time. This doesn’t mean onboarding cannot incorporate position specific training if specific training is needed.
To be effective, the onboarding process must include the minimum components below. The purpose is for the new hire to learn how to be immediately effective in your company.
- Dedicated and meaningful time commitment by each participant. Each person who participates should understand the reason they are involved with specific expected outcomes.
- One-on-one time with the founder or other senior leaders who communicate the company’s purpose, values, and history. This needs to be deeper than what is on the website, on posters or other public materials.
- One-on-one time with key people throughout the organization they support or manage. The how and why of their role is better understood in this way. Additionally, the new hire is not just a voice or face on a call. This gives people in the organization the opportunity to explain their critical needs or what has been lacking from the position.
- Onsite visits to understand how that location fits into the organization. It can be a representative sample if there are multiple locations effectively doing the same thing.
- The new hire’s manager should check at the end of day several times with both the onboarding participants and the new hire to ensure desired objectives are being met.
You can expect, with a dedicated and effective onboarding process:
- A rapid assimilation of organizational culture because of immediate full immersion.
- Deeper interpersonal links between employees from more one-on-one time.
- Enhanced new hire affiliation with the organization realized from the company commitment to their success.
If the leadership team cannot commit to this effort (no time, too expensive, this is an HR responsibility), perhaps there isn’t organizational alignment for employee success.