Socialization, Schmocialization.

Onboarding and Socialization

It’s not just about company culture.  It’s not just about getting comfortable.  Or building relationships.

Now, before the Culture Police (sounds like a mashup of classic 80s bands) steps in and calls me out, read on. There is a point:

You hired that person to do a job.  Giving him the tools he needs to do that job and perform at a high level should be your top priority.  Understanding the company culture is very important, and building relationships certainly is too…it has its place, but it should not be the primary focus of your immersion plan.

Generally speaking, successful relationships are built over time.  They start on a solid foundation and are nurtured through effort and experience.  I’m a fan (total guilty pleasure), but let’s be honest – how many relationships from the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise have stood the test of time?  Not many.  Why?  Because it just doesn’t happen like that – it may be “reality” television, but face it – it’s far from “real”.  Immersing new employees into your organization is no different.  Establish opportunities for new hires to learn about the culture and people.  Introduce him to a “buddy” or mentor.  Encourage them to get involved, but recognize that alliances are not going to form overnight.

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Socialization is a very popular topic right now.  We know that integrating a new employee into the organization’s culture will help set that person up for success.  But it’s only one factor in a much bigger plan.  Like I said before, you hired that person to do a job.  What are you doing to help him do that job?

A few things, I hope…

1.  Prepare for his start.  Get his workstation ready.  Make sure he has a computer with all the appropriate software and hardware.  Set up his phone.  Tell the team when he’s arriving, so people can be ready to communicate tasks, projects, and other routines.  What’s the old saying…an ounce of prevention, yada-yada-yada?

2.  Provide training.  You might be hiring an industry hotshot who knows what he’s doing from a task or strategy perspective, but he will need to learn your internal processes and systems.  Don’t assume that just because he’s been around the block, that he can jump in and hit the ground running, sink-or-swim style.  Invest in training your new employee.  It’s a critical part of the onboarding process; something that all parties will benefit from.

3.  Stage information sharing as the employee has the context to understand it.  Day Uno is not the time to break down the organizational chart and explain to the new employee where he fits into the big picture (unless your goal is simply to make his eyes glaze over).  Nor is it the appropriate time to ask for his “outside perspective” to make changes to current processes.  He needs context about how things operate and what the goals and objectives are.  Even in a fast-paced environment, you’ve got plenty of time.  Consider what actionable, realistic tasks and projects make sense to involve him in right away, and capitalize on that.  Not only will it serve as relevant on-the-job training and experience, but he will feel a sense of accomplishment by actually contributing something.

So, what have we learned?

  • Socialization and culture are important, but it’s only one pixel in the onboarding picture.
  • Give new employees tools, training and time
  • Context is king

(See, I told you there was a point!)

Your turn: How does your organization leverage onboarding to help new employees perform at their best?

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