What Is Onboarding & Why Is It Important To Have a Good Onboarding Process
When working with leaders that have hired what they believe to be a phenomenal candidate only to find out that they hit peak performance in the interview process, we acknowledge that we missed something critical. The other side of that coin is that leaders expend time, planning, purpose, and precision in recruiting and hiring, only to have a haphazard approach to onboarding new team members. Naturally, this outcome is avoidable by having a clear process to welcome, train, and successfully integrate new hires into your ecosystem. Here are three tips for designing your own onboarding system that yields predictable, repeatable results.
Tip #1: Creating an Onboarding Process Template
Suppose you and your team were each asked separately to describe your process for onboarding a new hire. Would we hear similar structurally consistent responses, a shrug of uncertainty, or a myriad of approaches that each person has designed themselves? The straightforward resolution is to have a template (checklist) to onboard every new team member. Think of this as your preflight checklist to help this new hire smoothly transition, gain altitude, and maintain a smooth flight. Just as the most experienced pilot follows their own preflight process, without exception, this mindset will ensure that your employee has everything they need, role-model your expectation of discipline and execution, and create a developmental opportunity for other team members to train.
Tip #2: Provide a Realistic Representation of the Job
To create an environment for your new hire to be successful, feel rewarded, and contribute fully, the onus is on you to paint a compelling picture of what they can expect from your organization and make clear your expectation of them in their new role. Mismatched, unspoken, or vague expectations on either part will invariably lead to future conflict. Help them understand how seemingly monotonous tasks serve your customer’s needs or perhaps how a relative call/conversation may seem to them like Groundhog Day, but to your client, is the primary reason they choose to do business with you. How they fit into the big picture, what elements are critically important, and where they have the flexibility to contribute are continuous conversations that occur throughout the onboarding process. Much as the interview is the first peak at the experience your customers will have with this new employee, being realistic in this stage is role-modeling what the day-to-day ups and downs will look like.
Tip #3: Set a Comfortable Pace
Anyone reflecting on places they’ve worked or been patrons of can attest to an experience where the employee assisting them benefits from on-the-job training (OJT) without the benefit of advanced training. Whether a large or small company, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it is financially prudent to onboard a team member while performing the role with actual customers absent any orientation/training time ahead of that. Let’s be clear: you can pay for a training program by setting a pace for your new hire to learn adequately before being asked to interact with clients, OR you can pay for it in lost business when inevitable mistakes are made. Not to mention the possibility of creating a frenetic pace, unreasonable expectations, and negative client experiences frustrate this person so much that they quit. Can you imagine the cost of starting from square one when such a thing is 100% avoidable? Create a timeline for onboarding at a pace to foster learning, growth, questions, and a solid foundation for success.
Many leaders invest heavily in their hiring and recruiting process and then fall short in properly onboarding the talent they worked hard to find. If you lack a clear, consistent process for onboarding top talent that reflects a clear, consistent, predictable, and repeatable outline, experience, and pace, you may have a revolving door issue. No one wants to see their perfect hire squandered in the frustration of a chaotic onboarding process. Many of the successful businesses I work with approach onboarding team members just as they do marketing to perfect customers: as a commitment that is a recurring habit rather than a one-time event. Crafting a disciplined onboarding habit based on mutual benefit can be a competitive advantage when done as part of a disciplined operational approach. Not sure where to start? Begin with a quick, 15-minute, no-obligation phone call with me.