Onboarding: An Opportunity for New Beginnings

Pumpkin and applesThere’s something magical that happens in the fall. September has always signaled new beginnings for me. The kids go back to school. The temperature cools. The leaves begin to turn yellow and red. Football season is underway. We begin to crave pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon. Some find themselves swapping in tasty stouts and rich cabs. And this year, I have started a new job! I am thrilled to be a part of the ABR team!

Onboarding is forever a hot topic in the training industry. How to do it “right,” who should be involved, what you need to say or not say, how long it should last, what are the “have to know” vs. “you will figure this out” items… I could go on. Here are some simple tips from my own onboarding experiences that may help.

Be PREPARED. This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? I have heard countless stories of new hires starting without the basics. No computer. No email. No desk. No chair. No working phone. No access to anything behind the firewall. No access badge to the building. These things all leave new hires wondering, “Do I even work here?” Please be prepared for your new hire’s arrival, not only to provide a warm welcome but to make a great first impression on your new employee! Employee satisfaction begins now.

Give new hires MEANINGFUL tasks to do. Stop asking new hires to haphazardly peruse and “become familiar” with the company, the intranet page, the knowledge management system, etc. These tasks are boring, have no direction, and you’re asking your new hire to draw the connections between random content and how they fit into the organization. Give them something meaningful to do! You hired them for their skills, so don’t let those skills go idle. Project work will provide the context and the platform to demonstrate how company policies apply, who they should start building connections and relationships with, and the satisfaction that something concrete was accomplished each day. There is nothing worse than watching the bees buzz around you and desperately wanting to join in, but not having the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way…because you were tasked with “looking through the intranet” today!

ASK: “What questions do you have?” Do not dump a ton of nebulous information in the lap of your new hire and run! Sit…stay a while. And please, save the monologues. Onboarding is not the time. Take a breath, pause, and ask, “What questions do you have?” Not only does it give your new hire the opportunity to digest and reflect on what you have shared, but it gives credence to the experiences s/he is bringing to the table. Maybe your new hire has some experience with the tool, but in a different context. Maybe your new hire is already familiar with what you have shared and can add value to that project. Maybe your new hire just needs a minute to think and the opportunity to ask a good question that will guide the rest of your conversation. So go ahead and pause. Only good will come of it.

Onboarding is a new beginning, a new relationship, and a new opportunity for both the employee and the organization. What type of experience would you like your new employees to have? What do you think your current employees would say about their own onboarding experiences?

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