Thursday, October 8, 2009

Onboarding in Four Phases

Start employee engagement from Day 1 with four levels of onboarding. Because so often employees leave managers, not companies, focusing on the opportunities for employees to build strong working relationships with their managers is key.

The first level of onboarding— the "welcome" should focuse on the employees’ and company’s
most basic needs, such as an overview of the organizational chart, the company video, products and services overview, and basic computer training.

The second level of setting the groundwork for employee engagement addresses the need for new hires to affirm that they made the right choice. Employees undoubtedly ask, ‘Did I make the right choice coming here?’ and you want to make sure this level of onboarding ensures they answer themselves with a resounding "yes”

The third level of setting the groundwork for employee engagement in onboarding— the fit —is affirmation for the long-haul. This is the phase of onboarding where HR shares the mission and values of the company with the new hire,
clarifies work conditions and unspoken rules of the road and describes job specifics. It’s also the
time when HR needs to start letting go and pushing the responsibility of onboarding back to the new hire and the hiring manager.

Level four of the groundwork for employee engagement provides the greatest opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. Put managers and employees at the center of this level. Here HR should become the orchestrator, not the owner, of the process and should help managers build the foundation for a trusting relationship with the employee. Make sure that during this phase managers
work to help their employees shorten their learning curve, expand their reach and discuss how their jobs relate to what the company does.

Managers can be resistant to working at this relationship-building phase. Get them to understand that this is their job, not yours.

Referencing how someone might plan a road trip, get employees to take charge and
get in the driver’s seat. Managers should be the navigators and employees the drivers.

And HR after onboarding? HR can act kind of like OnStar or a GPS -- there if you need it, but not taking you anywhere you don;t want to go.