“You should onboard team members whenever there is any kind of role change,” urge George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut in “Onboarding for Business Success.” So, beyond onboarding external hires—explain the authors of the November issue of TD at Work—you should onboard in the following situations: internal promotions, lateral assignments, role change, new project, and acquisitions.
And far from simply being the burdensome task that many consider it to be, onboarding actually provides many opportunities for organizations, among them:
An opportunity for conversations. Early conversations between a new employee and relevant stakeholders such as manager, peers, and senior supervisor—or an employee and his new teammates—can lead to different perspectives on a workplace challenge. Such dialogue can also create the groundwork for leveling expectations between parties, and can provide the opportunity for the new employee to begin to understand—early on—where to go for helpful resources and to learn about “how things get done around here.”
An opportunity to align stakeholders. “It’s amazing how many organizations bring in new people without plans to integrate those people into the team and train others on how to work with them,” write Bradt and Vonnegut. Agreeing upon, and sharing, onboarding plans and recruiting briefs helps ensure that everyone involved understands critical activities and timing, along with roles and responsibilities of the new employee.
An opportunity to break down barriers. A new employee entails change: for the team and for the organization as a whole. Generally, people are on their best behavior and are welcoming of the new employee. Seize that opportunity to bring people together.
An opportunity to reinvent teams. One of the ways the new employee is an element of change is that she is going to do things differently than a previous team member did them. The new employee will bring new skills and knowledge, so it is an opportune time to look at the team to see how team members might rethink their ways of doing things, such as communicating or the managing a task’s process.
Onboarding is not only an opportunity to align stakeholders, it takes the effort and buy-in from all stakeholders to be successful. The talent development professional can offer his expertise—as well as tools and resources--to the hiring manager to recruit someone who is going to be a great fit for the organization. And both the talent development pro and the manager should check in frequently with the new hire to make sure she has everything she needs to be productive.
The new employee, too, has a critical role: “Employees should take ownership of their own onboarding—just as they would with their development—proactively guiding the organization to provide the tools, resources, insight, and support they need to succeed.”