ATD Blog

Multiple New Hires? Consider Batch Onboarding NOW

Monday, November 10, 2014

Onboarding groups of people together has efficiency and effectiveness advantages. Batch onboarding makes better use of the time of all those involved in onboarding. Cohorts can help and push each other along the way. 

Time management 

Time management is a strategic exercise. It’s about allocating your own and your organization’s scarce resource, time, to the right place in the right way at the right time over time. The core skill is saying no when something should be done:

  • not ever (because it has no value)
  • not now (because it has more value later)
  • not by me (because others could/should do it instead)
  • not alone (because of the advantages of leverage)
  • not live (because a phone call or video will work)
  • not again (because re-work is inherently wasteful)
  • not well (because vaguely right is good enough). 

This frees you and your organization up to spend your time on the thing that you should do NOW (Next, Once, Well). 

Onboarding others and supporting those onboarding others involves aligning, acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization. 

  • Align: Make sure your organization agrees on the need for a new team member and the delineation of the role you seek to fill.
  • 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 teams deliver better results faster. 

Train, develop, and encourage new employees’ direct supervisors to take the lead on aligning others around the need for their new team members. Those direct supervisors should own the critical acquisitions, though others can manage the process. Make sure there is a system in place to get new team members the tools they need. Inspire and enable new team members to accelerate progress. That leaves assimilation, which is ripe with time management opportunities.’s Mitch Causey shared his team training software organization’s thinking about the efficiency of onboarding in groups around repetition, benchmarking, healthy competition and cohorts. 

Less repetition 

Advertisement has its new outbound sales people start in a group all on the same day so they can go through onboarding together. As Causey told me, “Repeating yourself is probably the most inefficient waste of time on the planet. By onboarding in a group, you can convey the same information to multiple people while only saying it once. It’s the quintessential “kill two birds with one stone” example.” 

Even if you can’t do this, think about running periodic group orientation sessions. This way you and senior leaders can share their perspective with new hires without repeating themselves to each individual. 


It’s easier to benchmark people against each other if they have the same time in position. Causey explained that having people in the same role start on the same day “takes away excuses.” In particular it takes away the excuse that someone has been here longer than someone else. This allows you to dig into the real causes of differences in performance, dialing up what works and compensating for what’s working less well. 

Healthy competition 


The corollary to benchmarking is healthy competition. New employees in the same roles will naturally compare themselves to each other. Managed right, this helps everyone ratchet up their performance together. 

As Causey explained, “The key word here is healthy. This is where cultures can go very wrong, very fast. If you’re not using benchmarking and competition to improve your employees on both a group and individual level, you will most likely start to see unhealthy levels of turnover.” 


People hunt in pairs. We’re more comfortable when others are going through experiences with us. Onboarding people in groups gives them a natural cohort. As Causey puts it, it makes people think: “It’s okay. I’m going to make it, because all of these other people around me are with me.” 

Onboarding is a crucible of leadership for all involved. Batching new hires may help you and your organization apply the right resources to onboarding at the right time, once, well.

About the Author

George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his experience as a business leader, consultant, and journalist. He progressed through sales, marketing, and general management roles around the world at companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and J.D. Power’s Power Information Network spin-off as chief executive. Now he is a principal of CEO Connection and managing director of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis.

George is a graduate of Harvard and Wharton (MBA), co-author of four books on onboarding, including The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, and co-author of a weekly column on, The New Leader’s Playbook.

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