Why do leaders care about onboarding?

Why do leaders care about onboarding - blog header image

It’s one of many million-dollar-questions in the business of “talent” these days. Why do our leaders and executives care about onboarding?

I attended a conference session last week led by Tamar Elkeles, Ph.D., a former Chief Learning Officer of the Year during her longtime tenure with Qualcomm. Dr. Elkeles had some no-nonsense insight into the ever-evolving role of a Chief Talent Officer. While the session itself wasn’t necessarily focused on onboarding, but rather the position and challenges of talent leaders in general, there were some parallels I took away that are highly applicable:

Key Talent Challenges Facing Global Organizations:

  • Forecasting the future…and developing people for jobs that don’t even exist yet
  • Creating a company culture that maximizes employee growth and engagement
  • Retaining talent to drive business success
Source: Tamar Elkeles, Ph.D.

(If those challenges don’t directly correlate to onboarding, I don’t know what does.)

If our job is to find a solution to these challenges and address them through onboarding, then we need to have a seat at the table to better understand the underlying drivers:

  • To learn about jobs that don’t exist yet, we need to understand the industries we support, the products and services our organizations deliver and new innovations that require us to evolve.
  • To contribute to company culture, growth and engagement, we need to create onboarding programs that embrace and immerse new employees and help them feel connected.
  • To effectively retain talent, we need to enable new employees up to learn, perform and be successful, quickly.
Getting started with onboarding? Check this out: 5 Must-Capture Onboarding Metrics to Prove Your Value

Perhaps the most provocative statement that Dr. Elkeles stated during this session, and possibly the sentence that resonated with me more than anything during the entire conference was this:

“Executives care because we tell them to care.”

(This quote is paraphrased a bit, because I was in the middle of an “a-ha” moment when she said it, and didn’t write it down fast enough!)

But please let the point resonate as loudly with you as it did for me…

Many (not all) of our executives and senior leaders fail to recognize the value in developing talent, or providing a rich onboarding experience for new employees. Only when we claim a seat at the table (or contribute in our role in a way that our department leaders can claim that seat on our behalf) and TELL THEM how onboarding impacts these challenges, will the impact our programs are making “bubble up” and be:

Seen. Heard. Felt. Measured.

Providing an intentional onboarding experience is the necessary foundation and logical starting point for a results-driven talent engagement, development and retention strategy. It’s a competitive advantage that will set your organization apart, and be YOUR professional advantage, if you are looking to build influence among leaders.

Take some action: Find what matters in your organization, what drives business, and what keeps your leaders up at night…and discover how onboarding will make a positive, measurable impact.


Talent GPS is here! 

Talent GPS cover image 2

I’m thrilled to have co-authored the book, Talent GPS: A Manager’s Guide to Navigating the Employee Development Journey, with Lou Russell and Brittney Helt. If you manage people or support those who do, you’ll want to grab a copy!

Buy now


Are you ready to Make Onboarding Better in your organization?

We are nearing the halfway point of 2017 already! Is updating (or starting) your onboarding program on your list of goals this year? How’s that going?

Based on overwhelming feedback from our annual onboarding survey this winter, we are getting ready to launch an exclusive online community, completely focused on making onboarding better. Whether you are just getting started with developing and implementing an onboarding program, or you are committed to improving the new employee experience at your organization, this community is for you.

Be one of the first to learn more and to get pre-launch access to the community.

Subscribe today and be in the know!

Why “Lean In” Made Me Step Back for a Moment

Over the past few years, the Lean In movement has become a highly influential, inspirational voice for professional women around the world. As a professional female, I appreciate the message and encouragement. As the mother of a teenage son (today, at the time of this writing, is actually his 15th birthday!) and a college-aged daughter, I appreciate that these conversations are happening, to hopefully provide an equal, empowering career experience for her, and that my son has an educated perspective as well. I’ve read the book and follow posts on social media. I would say that I’ve been in agreement with most of the points I’ve seen.

Until last week.

If you know me, you know that I am hardly a confrontational person. This blog, while sometimes a source of tough love for hiring managers and those who are responsible for creating learning experiences, is not typically a platform that seeks out debate because, quite frankly, it’s exhausting, it rarely yields change, and it’s just not my style. However, in defense of my passionate stance for the new employee experience, I was unsettled by a post and New York Times article I read the other day on the Lean In Facebook page:

lean-in-facebook-post

Specifically, this line from the post:

Office Housework.PNG

Please hear me: I am not disagreeing with the overall premise of this article. I fully believe that women often do more “office housework” than their male counterparts. I have seen (and experienced) it time and time again during my 20+ years in the workforce.

My issue, and what struck such a nerve with me, is that this post described “training new hires” as OFFICE HOUSEWORK, suggesting that it is an inconvenience. A mindless task. A chore.

Then I thought, “Okay, Michelle. Before getting all worked up over a Facebook post, maybe you should read the article and then form an opinion?” So I did.

And in the first paragraph, I read this:

lean_in_article

 

Right there, among suggestively trivial items like helping improve a presentation and planning a holiday party, I saw it: “trained several new hires…”

Now, I can accept that fact that whoever wrote the Facebook post, and the authors of this article probably did not intend to minimize the importance of onboarding. Of the thousands of people who read the post/article, I am probably the only one who is reacting so passionately to something that wasn’t even the main point (I could argue how sad that is, but I’ll let it slide). But since the Lean In organization has such influence over so many professionals in countless organizations and industries (and kudos to them for it), I am distressed over the notion that such cavalier word choices may cause readers to dismiss an organization’s need for intentional, results-driven onboarding.

If you treat onboarding like an inconvenience or a low-priority task, then don’t be surprised if your new employees aren’t feeling connected to your organization.

A study by Aberdeen has shown that as many as 87% of new employees aren’t fully committed to a new job for the first six months. Eighty-seven percent. Let’s put it this way: out of 100 newly-hired employees, 87 of them are still subscribed to emails from Indeed and Glassdoor and may still be following up about other submitted job applications or calls from assertive recruiters. Those talented employees that you have invested time and money to hire and train are not entirely sure that they want to stick around for the long haul. If your partners in the onboarding process don’t realize how important their job is, then it is your job to communicate it.

Who are your partners?

Regardless of who “owns” the onboarding experience for your organization, there are a number of key stakeholders who should be involved in the new employee experience. Just a few include:

  • HR/Talent Acquisition
  • L&D/Training/Talent Development
  • Hiring Managers
  • Peers and teammates
  • Support staff (IT, administrative roles, etc)
  • Executives and senior leaders
  • Clients and vendors

Everyone involved touches a new employee’s experience in some way. If they treat this responsibility like an inconvenience, an afterthought or a “nice-to-have” during a busy time, then your new employees feel it. It potentially stunts their development, performance, engagement, and connectedness. You must educate your organization on how onboarding impacts the bottom line of your business.

Wait, what? You don’t know how onboarding impacts your business?

Find out.

What story is your company’s data telling about your new employees’ performance, retention and engagement? 

Depending on your organization’s goals and priorities, some essential metrics could include:

  • Sales within the first 30-60-90 days of employment
  • Number of errors or accidents on the job
  • Reasons employees leave within the first year (exit interview data is a gold mine for this!)
  • Number of internal promotions within the first year
  • Productivity – particularly for those in a very metric-driven role (think call center data, customer service, assembly line, etc)

 

Onboarding and new employee training can make a significant impact on business results – during Orientation, in a training environment and through on-the-job experience. People, male or female, who are involved should know how THEY are contributing to the bottom line. Give them a chance to take ownership of their role and recognize onboarding as a need-to-have. To lean in to the privilege of serving and contributing to a new employee’s success (see what I did there?).

Am I going to stop following Lean In because of this? No, of course not. The mission and work of this organization is important; it invites productive conversation and adds immense value to our professional society. In fact, had it not been for confidence gained through the stories of passionate female leaders and influencers, maybe I would not feel comfortable sharing my opinion through this platform? Who knows…

As a champion of learning in the workplace, I firmly believe that we need to pay attention to the direct and indirect messages we are sending, and use our influence to shape learning experiences for employees in the organizations we support. This article was a powerful reminder.


 

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Don’t miss a thing! For tips, ideas and yes….an occasional rant, simply complete the form below. Be sure to connect on Twitter too – @MichelleLBaker. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Are we still onboarding like it’s 1999?

prince-party-like-its-1999
As far as headlines go, Prince’s recent death is hardly breaking news at this point. Several weeks have now gone by since his untimely, tragic passing. Having grown up in the 1980s, Prince’s music was the soundtrack of my youth. It was such a shock to learn that this original, talented individual is no longer with us.

Recently, I was walking through a used bookstore and came across this little gem:
New-Employee-Orientation-book-circa-1988
I realize this hardly looks like a current resource, but I was intrigued and a little amused by my discovery of this relic. For $3.48, I was willing to find out if it was any good. SOLD.

What does this have to do with Prince? Well, let’s call this post a subtle nod to the Purple One himself. Based on this book, are there any recommended practices in this book that have stood the test of time? Is it all antiquated garbage?

Or are we still onboarding like it’s 1999? 

Disclosure: This book was actually published in 1988….so here are a few little nuggets from a time somehwere between Raspberry Beret and Batdance:


Page 6: “All members of the new employee’s ‘team’ should be encouraged to attend Orientation. They should be coached to go out of their way to make the new hire feel welcome. Nothing is worse than an insincere gathering where ‘veterans’ talk with each other and exclude the newcomer.”

Verdict: Stands the test of time (well, pretty much).

Clearly, the importance of making a new employee feel welcome is not new. And yes, co-workers and other stakeholders should all be coached in the importance of the role they each play in onboarding a new employee. The biggest difference to note here is the feasibility for EVERYONE on a new employee’s team to attend Orientation. While that would be awesome, distributed, global workforce often prevent this from happening. Advice? Take advantage of technology to connect the dots between global, remote and office-based employees.

Sidenote: Obviously, I used a direct quote from the book…I never, ever refer to a new employee as a ‘new hire.’ You may have read my thoughts on the subject, but in case you haven’t…here you go.


Page 32: “One mistake is to avoid trying to cram everything the new employee needs to know into the first day. Schedule the orientation over several days. Give each employee enough time to assimilate new information in a way that is meaningful.”

Verdict: Stands the test of time.

Orientation, in itself, is an event. Onboarding is a process. While this book focused solely on “New Employee Orientation,” it goes without saying that Orientation is an essential piece of the Onboarding puzzle. And no, all of the necessary information should not be thrown at new employees on their first day. On Day #1, even the smartest, quickest-learning professional is just trying to remember everyone’s name and where to find the restroom. For your 21st century Orientation program, introduce tech tools and other self-directed resources where applicable to extend the learning and discovery beyond the walls of your training room. Establish an assertive, yet realistic pace that meets both learner and business needs.

Page 34: “As a supervisor, you are responsible for getting things started during Orientation. It is not the responsibility of a secretary or another employee to do your job. They may be involved, but the new employee should not be assigned to anyone until you have made the initial contact and established a plan for the day.”

Verdict: Mixed feelings.

Yes. The relationship with the hiring manager is the single most important relationship that a new employee needs to establish and develop when starting a new job. And yes, that hiring manager should take ownership of the process. But logistically, this should be a partnership between a variety of stakeholders who bring something important to the onboarding table: Human Resources, Recruiting, IT, Learning/Talent Development, Executives and a host of supporting players impact a new employee’s early experiences with an organization. Leverage the perspectives of your onboarding stakeholders to enhance your program.
In summary, the book was actually pretty good. More relevant than I anticipated, and it even had some handy checklists that could easily be updated and repurposed. Not a bad $3.48, if you ask me.

Thank goodness for modern practices and technology! We’re able to start with a solid foundation for creating a welcoming experience for new employees, like outlined in this book, and build upon it with all the resources and amenities we have at our fingertips today. We don’t need to onboard like it’s 1988 – or 1999 – or even 2006 anymore.

Your Turn: What longstanding onboarding practices and traditions have stood the test of time at your organization? Leave a comment and share!

What To Do With Those 2014 Professional Development Budget Dollars?

spend-those-2014-professional-development-budget-dollars

Believe it or not, 2014 is quickly coming to an end. It doesn’t seem possible, does it?

If you’re like many L&D leaders, now is the time you’re looking at your annual department budget, and quickly trying to spend some of your allocated dollars, so you don’t have to hear this:

“If you didn’t need the money in 2014, we’re not going to approve it in 2015.”

Been there, done that? I know I have!

So, if you’re looking for an affordable professional development opportunity for you or someone on your team, why not consider registering for the newest interactive workshop experience from phase(two)learning?

Orientation Overhaul: Re-imagining the New Employee Experience in your Organization

By popular demand, phase(two)learning is partnering with Brian Washburn, Managing Director with Endurance Learning and the voice of the popular Train Like a Champion blog, this 2-day workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the design and delivery of your current New Employee Orientation program
  • Define success for your New Employee Orientation program
  • Identify the essential stakeholders across your organization who should be involved in your New Employee Orientation program
  • Incorporate strategies into your Orientation program proven to increase engagement and to make sure your new employees “get it”
  • Compare and contrast what you’re currently doing with successful practices from industry-leading organizations featured in a panel discussion
  • Differentiate between must-have and nice-to-have elements in your New Employee Orientation program
  • Use concepts learned in this workshop to immediately implement changes to your current Orientation materials in a unique Design Lab session

Is re-imagining your New Employee Orientation program on your 2015 agenda? Start planning now by registering for this session, and take advantage of early bird rates!

And just for you, Phase(Two)Nation…

Use promo code FRIEND to save an additional $200 on your registration (even with the discounted group rate)!

Seating is limited for this roll-up-your-sleeves event, so reserve your spot now!

Got questions? Check out the FAQ on the registration page, or send an email today to learn more.

 

Know of someone who plans to re-imagine their New Employee Orientation program in 2015? Be kind and share this post!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Does Your New Employee Orientation Program Need an Overhaul?

Orientation Overhaul Logo JPEG format cropped

 

We’ve been hinting around at a big announcement for the past few weeks, and here it is!  By popular demand, we are excited to announce the newest public workshop offering from phase(two)learning!

Join us March 9-10, 2015 for Orientation Overhaul: Re-imagining the New Employee Experience in your Organization!

New Employee Orientation is often a lackluster rite of passage for new employees – consisting of little more than paperwork, policies and procedures. Unfortunately, many programs fail to grasp this unique opportunity to connect with their newest associates, harness their natural new-employee excitement and ignite their passion for your organization…which fuels employee engagement, learning and long-term retention.

So, let’s give it an overhaul! By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the design and delivery of your current New Employee Orientation program
  • Define success for your New Employee Orientation program
  • Identify the essential stakeholders across your organization who should be involved in your New Employee Orientation program
  • Incorporate strategies into your Orientation program proven to increase engagement and to make sure your new employees “get it”
  • Compare and contrast what you’re currently doing with successful practices from industry-leading organizations with an inspiring Onboarding Luminary discussion panel
  • Differentiate between must-have and nice-to-have elements in your New Employee Orientation program
  • Use concepts learned in this workshop to immediately implement changes to your current Orientation materials in our unique Design Lab session

Who should attend?

  • HR & Talent Acquisition leaders who are responsible for their organization’s New Employee Orientation program
  • Learning & Talent Development professionals who are involved in developing or delivering New Employee Orientation content
Learn more and register here

If your New Employee Orientation could use a reboot – we can assure you, this session is for you. And trust us, it will not be a passive, boring, lecture-laden session…this will be an intensive, roll-up-your-sleeves opportunity to immediately work on your own Orientation materials. The workshop will conclude with a unique Design Lab, which will allow you to take advantage of ideas from other participants, as well as receiving coaching and feedback from your facilitators to begin your own overhaul before you leave – and before you get distracted back in the office!

Seating is limited…reserve your spot today!

Yes, I keep saying “we” – so, who’s helping me with this?

This workshop is a joint venture between myself and Brian Washburn, the voice of the popular Train Like a Champion blog. Brian has been working in instructional design and workshop facilitation for over 16 years. He is the co-founder and managing director of Endurance Learning, an organization whose vision is for every presentation to be engaging and lead to change. Brian has worked with organizations across North and South America, Asia and Africa in order to help improve the engagement and interactivity of their training programs. He has served as the national training director of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) and the Global Learning & Development manager for SightLife, the world’s largest eye bank. In 2011, Brian was named a Top Young Trainer by Training Magazine in recognition of his contributions to the training field before the age of 40. You can read more about his philosophy on training design and delivery at his blog, and you can connect with him on Twitter at @flipchartguy.

 

Register NOW to reserve your seat and take advantage of Early Bird savings! 

Use up those 2014 training budget dollars, or start making plans for 2015 by registering today! You’ll save $100 per person, or even more if you take advantage of the group discount or table sponsor opportunity. Check out the registration page to learn more.

 

Here’s what we need from you, Phase(Two)Nation:

  • Please take a look at the registration page and consider attending the workshop on March 9-10, 2015
  • Share this post with colleagues and friends who are involved with their organization’s New Employee Orientation program
  • Join the phase(two)learning email list so you are in the loop about other upcoming events and updates!

Subscribe to receive email updates from phase(two)learning

 

Got any questions about this event? Reach out to Michelle anytime to learn more.

In My Opinion, The Most Important Part of Onboarding is…

Most-Important-Part-of-Onboarding

Yesterday, I was asked this question: “In your opinion, what is the most important part of onboarding?”

Naturally, I had an opinion, and I wanted to explore the topic further here.

My answer to the question – the most important part of onboarding (in my opinion) is connecting the new employee to the organization.

Notice I didn’t say getting paperwork filled out correctly. Or ensuring that policies are adequately covered. Or that the boxes are all checked. I believe the human component of onboarding trumps all of that.

What do I mean by “connecting the new employee to the organization?” Depending on your organization, this could mean a few different things, such as:

  • How can the new employee establish a “direct line of sight” to the customer?
  • How does the new employee impact the customer experience (directly or indirectly)?
  • How can the new employee embody the company vision, mission or core values?
  • What is the company culture? How can the new employee get involved?
  • Who are the key individuals with whom the new employee can connect up, down and across the organization?

Simply put, it’s about putting people before process.

Chances are…the paperwork – online or hard copy – will get filled out. Those policies will be covered. The proverbial boxes will be checked. But what if no one helps the new employee connect to the organization? That vulnerable new employee, left alone to navigate with uncertainty, will inevitably stumble.

Will he be able to establish that “direct line of sight” to your customer?

Will he know how his role impacts the customer experience – particularly in a non-customer-facing role (such as accounting)?

Will he truly understand your company’s vision, mission or values?

Will he “get” the culture? Will he feel comfortable enough to get involved?

Will he be able to identify those key individuals and be empowered enough to reach out and make those connections?

Maybe…but not likely. That’s where all of the stakeholders involved in the onboarding process come in. Just as it “takes a village to raise a child,” it also takes a village to nurture and engage a new employee. Whether you are an HR manager, a Talent Development practitioner, a hiring manager, a teammate or someone in a supporting role, you have an opportunity to make a difference when connecting a new employee to your organization.

Because after all, it is the most important part of onboarding. In my opinion, anyway.

 

Your turn: How does your organization’s new employee experience put “people before process?” Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Not putting people before process with your onboarding program? phase(two)learning can help!

Bring phase(two)learning to you – now scheduling workshop dates for December 2014 and beyond! Send an email to learn more about customized workshops that can help your organization align onboarding with what matters to your business. Get your free quote today!

 

 

Disruptive Onboarding?

disruptive-onboarding

The expression “Disruptive Innovation” has been all over the interwebs lately. Are you familiar with the concept?

It was first coined by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor. According to Christensen’s website, Disruptive Innovation “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

What are some common disruptors? Well, here are a few that come to mind:

  • Cellphones/smartphones disrupted the landline telephone business
  • Companies like Über and Lyft have disrupted the taxicab business
  • eBooks and eReaders have disrupted libraries, bookstores and newsstands
  • Netflix, Hulu and Redbox have disrupted the way we watch TV and movies

These are just a few examples – you’re probably thinking of a dozen others, like the ones featured in this interesting article from Mashable.

Simply put, “disruptive innovation” is all about shaking things up. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, particularly when it comes to the topic of onboarding.

Disruptive onboarding? Hmm. I like the sound of that…..

How can we shake up the new employee experience in our organizations?

Three things to address:

1. The onboarding process itself

Take a good, hard look at your onboarding process. Is it the same process your organization has been using for years? Maybe it’s time to break down the process – from the day the offer is extended through the end of the full onboarding period – whatever that might look like for your organization. Tear it down to the studs and build it back up, if necessary.

2. The tools you use to facilitate the process

This includes technical tools, social media and other facilitation methods for making onboarding a learning experience for your newest team members. Think 70-20-10. Make it active. Help new employees establish relationships. Provide resources for self-directed and formal learning.

3. The value onboarding adds to the organization

What is your value proposition? How are you contributing to your company’s vision, mission, values and strategic business drivers? If you don’t know, find out. Now. And then connect the dots, making the value blatantly obvious for your stakeholders – executives, business partners, hiring managers and the new employees themselves.

 

Onboarding should not be static. As your organizational landscape evolves, so should your program. In this case, “disruption” is a good thing. Disrupt the status quo – even if it’s done through subtle changes over time! Where could your onboarding program use some disruption?

Your turn: What will the next iteration of your onboarding program be? How will you get there? Share your disruptive ideas in the comments below!

 

Know some folks who need to disrupt onboarding in their organizations? Be kind and share this post with them!

 

Need some help with the disruption?

Drop a note today and learn more about phase(two)learning’s Onboarding Audit package. Now scheduling dates for Fall 2014 and beyond!