CEOs – Driving A Winning Onboarding Strategy Is Your Job

by - February 23, 2018

I’ve always been interested by the topic of onboarding. And still amazed 10 years after starting my career how wrong people still get employee onboarding.

In times gone by employee onboarding was simply about getting you access to the right documents, meeting your colleagues and knowing where the fire exits and lavatories were. Hate to say it, but it was!

I’ve seen 24 point checklists with another 4 bullet points per category – have you ever completed 96 items on a checklist given to you and felt fulfilled in your first 3 months? I’ve also experienced the old school Sales induction, which is where they say here’s your laptop, your phone, the excel pricing document and our solution pack, you’ll shadow your colleague today and then tomorrow you sell. Don’t worry you’re not on full target this month – it’s a ramp period in your first month. Great earning potential.

N.B. this example below is a company that has over 100,000 employees!

My point here is not to explicitly tell you all the poor induction and onboarding stories but tell you that there are some core disciplines that even as a Tech CEO of a small company you can install to have a large impact.

I often summarise onboarding into four phases:

  • Pre-Joining
  • First Week
  • First Month
  • Ramp Up

Let’s discuss each of these areas in a little more detail so at least you have a framework after reading this article.

Pre-joining – Ok so you’ve got a verbal offer accepted. Great. It’s worth putting some time in NOW to this onboarding plan and strategy. Think of this like a journey. So the candidate accepts the verbal offer, you now need to get a summary email to follow up your conversation. And then you need to get across a contract and offer letter to the candidate for them to commit to and sign. Worth asking yourself, do we have a template contract per role type?

Then we need to coach the candidate through their own resignation/exit interview – as this can certainly throw some curveballs. Once this is completed we can confirm a start date and start building a plan. This could be thought of “T – 4” (4 weeks before start date) for example. So first we probably want to give the candidate some light reading that is broadly related to our industry, our story, a winning induction, our profession, our skill type or an inspirational leader who we look up to as a business. As the weeks progress this reading would increase to be more role-related and more specific to the role that your new hire is stepping into shortly.

Then about 1 week before the start date, could we get all the technical tasks completed? Could we get them all their logins, computer and hardware ordered, their first team lunch arranged??

First Week – Our intention with our first week is to give our new hire an excellent high-level overview of our company, our history, our mission, our product/service and meet the team.

First Month – normally concentrated on product/service knowledge, market orientation, existing clients/customers, role orientation which might include process flows or working models connected to the role.

Ramp Up – after your new hire impressing in the first month with their knowledge absorption, i.e. being an absolute sponge, prepping for each meeting and constantly asking questions and sometimes even subtlety making you think twice about certain and spotting some improvements that can be made to the company. They are now ready to be tested in their new role. This can include doing the core duties of the role, part-leading on new areas, meeting customers, shadowing on certain initiatives, creating new materials or guides to help the team increase their effectiveness and productivity. By about Week 10 you’ll know whether this person is cut out for the job. This is normally more a cultural evaluation, output evaluation and the underlying attitude of the individual you’ve just hired.

I hope this helps when thinking about onboarding. Of course as a CEO your role is to review and guide the team into creating, making and installing the best onboarding process possible. This is a constant area of improvement. Start monitoring and measuring and then you can start improving.

Even just noting down the process to start with is incredibly helpful. As well as creating a list of the most asked questions by new starters. You could even encourage your new starter to use your internal chat or communication channel to capture all their learns. Often these are mobile-enabled so they can capture all of their thoughts, ideas, observations and questions in the moment and come back and review them each morning. This is really important in the first 8-10 weeks as there is a lot of demand on the individual to perform, to impress, to settle and more importantly to add value to the organisation.

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