The responsibility of onboarding the employees we hire squarely falls on us as the leaders of the business unit. The number of times this process is delegated to some HR business partner or sometimes even to some HR executive is not a joke. The on-boarding process is our opportunity to start moulding the new hire in such a way that they can become fully productive and functional members of our team as quickly as possible.
In a talk that I gave sometime back, to a HR community, I talk about how could one go about delivering, what I call a 5✭ employee onboarding experience. You can watch the entire talk here.
Here are the five elements that define a 5✭ employee onboarding experience.
One of the most important things for someone joining a new organisation is for them not to feel lonely or alone. So, the on-boarding process must include elements that make them feel at home or make new social connections. These social connections can then become the foundations for their network within the organisations, the loose and tight ties that they can then depend upon for their work and influence.
Heritage or Culture:
One of the opportunities that most organsiations miss when it comes to their on-boarding process is to introduce their culture and expectations to the new hires. Instead of talking about values, it would be immensely useful to talk about expected behaviours, in specific situations that they will encounter in their day-to-day work in our teams.
Each one of us has our own preferences in terms of how we would like to learn, connect and interact. Some of us like synchronous communications (live calls) while some of us prefer asynchronous (listening to recorded calls at our own pace – faster or slower) communications. Some of us like to learn together in small teams and in a training program, while some of us prefer to learn on our own and at our own pace.
Does our onboarding program take into account these preferences and allow the new-hires the freedom to go about it in the way that works best for them?
There are some things that are fundamentals that we need to get right. Do they know when and where they are expected to report on their day of joining.
Do they have their IT equipments ready when they join and is it according to their prefernece (Mac vs Windows, iPhone vs Android, etc)?
Do they know who will meet them on day 1? Have they been assigned a mentor or a buddy? Do they know what can they expect from the on-boarding program? Is all the paperwork taken care of? These and so on and so forth.
Nothing frustrates a new employee more than an organisation not getting these fundamentals right.
The last part of a 5✭ employee onboarding experience is identifying the right kind of training that the new-hires need and ensuring that they get access to those as early as possible. These could be technical training to acquire skills or learning how to use tools that they will be using on a regular basis or a mindset training that requires them to shift their mindsets before they start working on assignments.
One of the differences between a good leader and a great leader is that great leaders know which activities are high leverage activities and ensure that they not only do not delegate them but go out of their ways to do these activities effectively and efficiently (in that order). Hiring and onboarding new employees is one such activities.
I remember when I joined my first corporate job (as a customer service executive), I was interviewed and welcomed by the MD of the company. He did that to every full time employee that his company hired. It is almost 18 years since then and I still remember him welcoming me to the company and telling me what behaviours are rewarded and which one’s are not tolerated in the 1st 10 mins of me joining the company.
If we aspire to be great leaders, we need to own these two activities completely and do a great job at them. The impact of these activities when done well compounds over time and gives us outsized rewards when compared to the time and effort we put in.