Onboarding Should be Relational, not Transactional

onboarding-soapbox

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that get under a person’s skin and drives. them. absolutely. crazy.

For me, it’s the term “new hire.” Seems innocent, right? I’m sure about 99.2% of people in the free world wouldn’t think twice about the expression, but it’s one I simply cannot stand.

In fact, I told my friend Brian the other day that “I die a little bit inside every time someone says ‘new hire’.” Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but hear me out:

Onboarding should be relational, not transactional.

“Hire” is a verb. It suggests transaction, or something that you do. When I hear someone referred to as a “new hire,” I immediately think that person isn’t an official part of the organization yet. In fact, when we look at the top definition for hire, this is what we see:

onboarding-should-be-relational-not-transactional

Am I saying there is no “transaction” involved in the process? Not at all. I get it, there is paperwork to complete, processes to follow, content to share. But that is not the end-all-be-all to onboarding a new employee.

onboarding-should-be-relational-not-transactional

Onboarding is a process that immerses a new employee (noun!) into an organization.

I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all, of us want our newest employees to feel welcomed, nurtured and included when they join the organizations we support. Your new employees are people, with needs and emotions and questions.

There is so much more to onboarding than the simple act of “hiring” a person.

When building a culture that welcomes, nurtures and includes new employees (particularly when there hasn’t been much of a process in place), an easy place to start is with the language you are using. It may be subtle – maybe even unnoticed – but being intentional with a detail as seemingly tiny as “new hire vs. new employee” sends a message to your organization that you are committed to building relationships with your newest employees.

Want to blow people’s minds? Tell them about it.

Tell your onboarding stakeholders and company leaders about your decision to use intentional language. Tell them that your team is committed to making onboarding a relational process, rather than a transactional one. This can be a huge value-add for your program.

Guess what? The benefit of intentional language goes beyond onboarding. Consider your language for learning, development and succession planning programs as well.

 

Your turn: Am I crazy? Is this just being a little too nit-picky? Tell me about it. Or tell me that this is brilliant, and it will revolutionize your program. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Onboarding Should be Relational, not Transactional

  1. I agree. I do not like New Hires either but use it everyday. As I think about it after reading this post, I am wondering how to address my group which is normally 8-10 strong while they are with veterans? Any suggestions

    1. Hi Kira – thanks for your comment! Are you asking how to address a group of new employees, while they are working alongside veteran/experienced employees? If so, you could look to your company culture for a cue…at my day job, we have a very athletic/sports-related focus. One department pairs up new/experienced employees, calling them “rookies” and “coaches” during the time they spend together. It gives the experienced employees a sense of identity and leadership – they were “chosen” to mentor and coach the new employees, and it aligns with our company’s athletic culture. I hope this is what you were asking…and that it was helpful! :)

  2. I cringe when I hear “new hire.” I joined a new company last year as director of O.D.and “new hire” was the norm. I’ve used the “water dripping on stone” method to cause a language shift– and I’ve made headway. I had trouble articulating why the word “hire” bothered me when used this way. Thanks for this really clear and logical explanation!

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