Onboarding is the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization.
- Acquire: Identify, recruit, select and get people to join the team.
- Accommodate: Give new team members the tools they need to do work.
- Assimilate: Help them join with others so they can do work together.
- Accelerate: Help them (and their team) deliver better results faster.
Effective onboarding of new team members is one of the most important contributions any hiring manager or Human Resources professional can make to long-term success. Onboarding done right drives new employee productivity, accelerates results, and significantly improves talent retention.
Yet few organizations manage the pieces of onboarding well. Even fewer organizations use a strategic, integrated and consistent approach like the one described in this article.
Why? Because onboarding is not something you do every day, it’s hard to become proficient. With deliberate practice, however, you can accumulate best practices onboarding expertise. This article shows you the way: step-by-step.
Total Onboarding Program (TOP)
A Total Onboarding Program will take your organization to a new level of effectiveness by improving and integrating the disconnected experiences and messages new employees get during the recruiting and on-the-job learning process. This is a powerful, vulnerable time in the life of an employee.
It represents the most important “teachable moment” your organization will ever have. If you can plan and use onboarding to put each new employee and the organization in full alignment, you will make a material difference in your business results over time.
A Total Onboarding Program is not about re-inventing the wheel. Most people understand or can navigate through the basics of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new employees. Our premise is that things work better when all efforts point in the same direction. When onboarding efforts align you get more done in less time by:
- Compressing recruiting, hiring and assimilation time.
- Reducing hiring mistakes by making everyone, including prospective hires, fully aware of what the job requires - from the employee and from the organization.
- Reducing new employee “buyer’s remorse” to greatly improve retention.
- Aligning new employees with critical business strategies.
Total Onboarding requires the hiring manager to lead each new employee’s onboarding experience from start to finish. If you are a hiring manager, start by creating the overall TOP plan. Get people aligned around your TOP onboarding plan and its importance.
Take primary responsibility for execution of your TOP onboarding plan across people and functions. If you are the HR manager, help your hiring managers create and execute their TOP onboarding plans.
Total Onboarding Program Steps
Prepare for your new employee's success before you recruit.
- Understand the organization-wide benefits of a Total Onboarding Program.
- Clarify your destination, write a recruiting brief, and craft your messages to the candidate and the organization.
Start by stopping to reconfirm your organization’s purpose, priorities and desired results. How will your new employee contribute? Think through what went well and less well when you and/or your organization onboarded new employees in the past. Map out clear, simple messages about this onboarding: your message to stakeholders, your message to candidates, and your message to your new employee.
- Craft your onboarding plan, and align your stakeholders.
Start by crafting a plan that builds on your recruiting brief, and a Total Onboarding Program timeline. Share your thinking with others. Get input. Align important players around your plan. Investment of time here makes everything else more effective and efficient.
Recruit in a way that reinforces your messages.
- Create a powerful slate of potential candidates.
Take charge of the employee acquisition process by creating and executing a new employee plan. Start with your target. Layout where you will “fish”, with what tools, timelines and milestones. Live your employment brand every step of the way. Create options by assembling a deep slate of strong candidates all at the same time. With options, you won’t feel you have to close the sale with your lead candidate if it’s not 100% right for everyone.
- Evaluate candidates against the recruiting brief while pre-selling and pre-boarding.
While candidates can focus on getting the offer, and then take a step back to evaluate the opportunity, you have to buy and sell at the same time. We use a strengths-focused, targeted selection/behavioral approach to interviewing with good success. Complete the interviewing process with formal post interview de-briefs, additional information gathering, and post interview follow-ups with candidates to learn even more (and set up closing the sale later).