Your Onboarding Process Sucks (And How To Fix it)

Congratulations, you’ve started a brand new job!

The excitement is real. You’ve moved on to pastures a new. Goodbye to everyone you’re leaving in the dust! There’s an extra spring in your step. Let’s do this.

And then you show up on your first day.

Okay, your new manager is on holiday and nobody told you. No big deal you think You’re a pro, you got this.

After all, the organisation with your last company was pretty terrible. Which is why you left.
You go and find your desk to get settled in.

No computer set up. No phone connected.

Well, at least you have a clean desk. But guess what? You need a security tag to get to the bathroom and your manager is the one who needs to be there to approve it. Okay, still staying positive.

So, someone who you assume works in IT signs you into the network and leaves you to search the intranet, where you get to explore compelling facts like how last weeks Halloween party was the biggest one yet.

The receptionist comes over to tell you should you need to use the bathroom just press 0 on your phone to call her and she’ll tag you in. Oh, your phone isn’t connected? Can you hold it in for today?

It’s A Common Occurrence

After years of helping companies improve onboarding processes, we’ve learnt very few companies seem to have mastered onboarding —whether we’re talking about startups or larger enterprises.

And yet, the transition from recruiting to becoming fully productive is critical if you want your employees to stay engaged.

How Good Is Your Onboarding?

Unless you’re constantly hiring new talent, perhaps you’re not entirely aware how skilled you are in this area.

So let’s talk it through.

Consider for a minute that there are two distinct sectors to an employee’s onboarding experience – the one HR provides, and the one that you provide as their leader. And because those often lines blur, here are 5 tips to help you onboard like a champion.

1. Delete the Bait and Switch

Define what your recruiter or recruitment team is saying about the job, your management and the culture—both that of the company’s and your team’s. How truthful or accurate are they being?
Is your recruiter setting cultural expectations that will never manifest? If your company has defined its Employee Value Proposition, make sure your recruiters know how to talk about it. If they’re promising things that don’t exist then this needs to be addressed immediately.

2. Defeat the Void

The “void” is the space that exists between an offer of acceptance and your new hire’s first day. If you’re not clear on how HR handles this time period, educate yourself.
For example, can your new employee enter in the requisite information needed from a new hire online ahead of time, or do they have to fill out forms on their first day? Is there a place for new hires to connect before they show up for work (think a Facebook or Yammer page)?
Is there first-day training they need to attend? These details are small but do add up.
If you clearly understand what your employee will be experiencing, you can play a large role in their transition and establish yourself as their source of information.

3. IT BFFs

Enquire with your new hire’s manager what tools (technical or physical tools) they need to do their job, and then find out if you’ve got them or need to bring new tools or software in.
Is there an online form to fill out? Someone you can bug in person? What are the typical turn times for new equipment to arrive?

Pad your timelines whenever possible to allow for error and discover early on if your request is a rush. As for office or cube space, how do you secure it? Learn the ropes.
Make sure you have a spot for your new employee to settle in as soon as they arrive if at all possible.

4. Connect Them With the Right People

While your company may not be as hip as Netflix—whose new hires are greeted by CEO Reed Hastings and other senior leaders in their first month—I highly recommend creating a networking plan for your new folks.

Start by ensuring their roles and responsibilities are clear to everyone concerned.
Then consider setting up an onboarding support group that lasts between 3-6 months. Choose 3-5 people across the organisation that will be interacting with your new person on a regular basis.
Ask the senior-most member of the circle to set up a monthly lunch to allow for informal knowledge sharing. Have your new hire report out on their experience. Use their stories to improve your next onboarding.

5. Make Time for Your New Talent

As you digest the previous 4 steps, no doubt a sense of overwhelment (that’s not a real word but it should be). Leading people takes a lot of time and energy.

And it starts before they walk in your door. Don’t skimp. Do whatever it takes to be there for your new talent.

Remember, replacing them in 6 months is much more costly than being there wholeheartedly throughout the experience. Don’t let it be an afterthought.