3 Tips for Preventing Onboarding Cacophony

preventing onboarding cacophony

Cacophony:  ca·coph·o·ny  /kəˈkäfənē/  noun:  A harsh, discordant mixture of sound.

We’ve all been there.  You start a new job, and your Orientation experience is less than stellar.  The flow isn’t right.  It’s a mish-mash of content, presenters and chaos.  Maybe you were left on your own for awhile.  Maybe it was just a never-ending show-and-tell of department leaders, boasting about how awesome their teams are…but never really gave you any helpful guidance about how you’d interact with them.  Maybe you knew right away that it was simply a job…but not necessarily a strategic part of your career.


Like I said, we’ve all been there.  Is this what new employees in your organization are thinking?  Are you looking to build a more organized, harmonious blend of content and activities for your onboarding program?  Well, here are three easy-peasy ways to ensure that your program is more than a jumble of noise:

1. Have PURPOSE.

As you develop your content, consider your audience.  Everything you offer new employees should align with what the new employees’ roles are, where they are located, what they need to know and when they need to know it. Be diligent in your planning.  Be deliberate in your execution.

2. Engage the right PEOPLE.

Onboarding should be a team effort.  There should be a clear owner of the program (often, this is HR), but organizations have a number of partners, SMEs, and leaders to engage in the process.  Some messages should be delivered through HR, but others are better received from different sources.  Consider your stakeholders, and get them involved! (Need help with this? Stay tuned for details on the upcoming Onboarding Strategy + Stakeholders public workshop, available in spring 2013!)

3. Communicate the PAYOFF.

New employees (and their managers!) really need to know WHY the onboarding events you offer are so important.  Communicate not only the features of your onboarding program, but also the benefits.  This will not only instill confidence in the new employee, but also credibility to your program…which will help the employee prioritize involvement (particularly when events are spread over several days, weeks or months) and maintain a high level of engagement.

Purpose. People. Payoff.  Three simple, yet significant, details that will help you eliminate the noise and create your onboarding symphony.  My challenge to you: Look at your onboarding program.  Review your materials, and think about the message you share with your newest employees.  Are you sharing the purpose? Engaging strategic partners across your organization?  Letting employees know what the payoff will be?  How do you accomplish this?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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