There is an old Broadway tune that says, “It's not where you start, it's where you finish.” In the case of onboarding, however, I beg to differ with that philosophy a bit. A new employees’ onboarding experience makes a significant impact on where they finish, in terms of their contribution and productivity while on your payroll.
A successful onboarding process should accelerate new hire time-to-productivity, improve job satisfaction and reduce administrative burden, most often accomplished by supplying the employee with a personalized new hire experience. “Personalized” refers to the notion that each new hire is presented only with the onboarding materials that are relevant to them (i.e. his/her particular location and the specific role in the organization). When you have technology to accomplish these practical steps aligned to each individual, you free up time for the new hires’ first few days to be focused on meaningful activities that accelerate productivity and engagement with the organization.
The keys to successful onboarding include a smooth, functional process that presents only the relevant forms to the employee based on their specific needs. Technology that establishes the proper documents offered on drop-down menus and self-serve portals is important to streamlining the onboarding process. The second key works in conjunction with the first, which is a focus on each candidate’s behavioral attributes, to avoid forcing a square peg into a round hole. Using behavioral insights, you can meet employees on common ground, where they are most comfortable, according to their own work behaviors, especially over the first 60-90 days.
This data-gathering can be done quickly and effectively when using the right technology. A proven behavioral assessment administered early in the candidate’s quest to join your company will provide tremendous insight into individual core behaviors. You can then not only apply these insights to the hiring decision, but also use them after hiring to customize the onboarding experience for every individual.
After the tactical basics are completed, your customized onboarding process should include several strategic applications you want to explore to help the new employee hit the ground running.
Individuals have different preferences when it comes to training methods or learning new material. A behavioral assessment solution will reveal what training method your candidate responds to the best. For example, do they find lecture-style sessions boring, so much so that learning is hindered? A self-paced e-learning course may be the most effective way to disseminate information for those candidates.
As in the training realm, everyone has their own method(s) of progressing their assigned tasks from start to completion. You’ll find some who are sticklers for process, and others who prefer a loose management style. Organization skills can be re-trained over time, but your concern during onboarding is knowing how to use the new hire’s core work behaviors to show success and achieve productivity quickly.
Does the new employee prefer to “go with the flow” when it comes to timelines and meeting schedules? Or does he/she respond better to a stricter, regimented approach that leaves little room for error? An understanding of these behaviors will help you—and the new employee—to adjust expectations and minimize stressful situations.
Understanding the new hire’s behavioral preference, as it relates to team dynamics, can impact the employee’s assimilation into the group environment. Even if a new hire is in an individual contributor role, there will be many opportunities for the new hire to interact with others and participate in team activities during the onboarding process.
Behavioral onboarding delivers insight into the interactions between a new employee and supervisor. Issues may arise due to faulty expectations, poor communication, or a lack of understanding of the other’s perspective. Without behavioral data, the supervisor may be taken aback by the actions of a new hire. But with relevant behavioral data on hand during onboarding, the supervisor will be more aware of situations that may influence the employee’s work relationships with supervisors and peers.
With this updated onboarding perspective in mind, let’s change the words of that song a little bit: “It’s not where you finish, it’s where you start.” By starting on the right path using an onboarding program designed to streamline the employee’s transition into position, plus applying the added knowledge of employee behaviors, you will be much more satisfied with where they finish.