Is your onboarding program an integrated process that combines high touch with high tech and manager involvement?

What is Onboarding?

First, let’s decide on our terminology. Orientation involves activities such as getting the new hire on the payroll with appropriate benefits. On the other hand, onboarding is considered a longer process (up to one full year) with the goal of reducing the time it takes for new hires to reach acceptable productivity, truly assimilating them into the culture and the team, and ensuring they understand how their role fits into the big picture.

While each organization may have its own goals and processes in place, the following key components and tools are a foundation for a solid, practical onboarding program.

1. Initial Orientation

Orientation sets the tone for the new associate by introducing him/her to the organization. It provides regular updates on initial plans, intent and progress throughout the first 30, 60 and up to 90 days. Often, this roadmap helps “shape” the person’s vision and culture for the organization.

Potential tools include:

  • Corporate information, sales and business plans, goals and objectives provided through e-learning modules, self-study, and some instructor-led training supported by manager coaching
  • Compliance training provided through e-learning modules, self-study and some ILT)
  • Checklists to support the manager, HR representatives and new hire
  • Peer coaches/mentors
  • Contract for communication over the first three months

2. Functional Training

Functional training provides an overview of the organization’s products and services, client/customers, and organizational structure with systems orientation related to the company’s general systems (e.g., e-mail and Intranet) and role-specific systems requirements (e.g., SAP, CRM).

Potential tools include:

  • Systems training
  • Role-specific training (more formal development for sales, marketing, research, etc. when appropriate for large groups)
  • On-the-job coaching opportunities for one-on-one development through e-learning modules, self-study and ILT supported with manager coaching

3. Role Clarification Sessions (first 30 to 90 days)

These sessions involve facilitated discussions with the new associate and his/her manager to clarify expectations, priorities, deliverables, and communication and decision-making preferences. These sessions are crucial for achieving key goals.

4. Team Assimilation

Facilitated team session(s), often without the new hire at first, elicit expectations, concerns, work style preferences and perceived hurdles. They provide candid organizational and team information, as well as tips for successfully navigating the organization, and clarify the new hire’s expectations of team and work style.

5. Leadership Assessment (after 60 to 90 days)

The leadership assessment includes a review of the competencies required for success in the role and an assessment of how the new hire aligns with those competencies. The new hire develops an understanding of the culture and identifies any necessary adjustments in behavior.

Potential tools include guidelines for reviewing competencies and for creating a development plan.

“You get the employee engagement you deserve. If you don’t engage with them, they won’t engage with you… if you want them to commit to the cause, you must make an emotional connection with them… so take onboarding personally and make it personal” (George Bradt, Forbes).