Re-onboard the team

When an employee joins an African workplace, she may be confronted with something called an onboarding programme. That much is progress. Ten years ago she would have learnt how to settle in from a colleague. A subjective process, coloured by that colleague’s understanding of the business, spilled grains from the rumour mill, attitude to the boss and any of a dozen other filters. One thing for sure, not the kind of introduction her new CEO hoped for.

From global statistics, we know that companies with the greatest capabilities in recruiting and onboarding achieve greater revenue growth (and incur fewer repeat hiring costs) than ones that don’t. Fast-growing global employee engagement brand Snapcomms puts that revenue figure at 2.5 times higher.

But we could do better. Largely because onboarding programmes are created by HR Managers, who are keen to get a lot of compliance information across. At a time when the newcomer is just trying to work out whether she made the right decision.

Three essentials for any successful onboarding exercise:

  • A quick feel of the company culture, with the chance to network rapidly and find out more.
  • A simple to action plan to get the employee productive.
  • A plug-in to relevant employee engagement activities.

If your Talent Management team achieves that within 30 days of you crossing the  threshold, you’re working in one of the top 10% of companies worldwide that do.

To be honest, the ‘new normal’ shouldn’t change that intention, except perhaps to make it more urgent. Joining a company that works remotely is like playing an online simulation game. It seems real while you are engaged but, as soon as you turn off your screen, it vanishes. There’s none of the cultural immersion, social support or sense of obligation that inhabiting a ‘real’ company gives an employee.

So, if your company is working remotely, the leadership team should crank up this effort.

Creating an onboarding programme can, and should be, a collaborative internal exercise. Done well, it develops everyone involved. It challenges senior management to answer questions and explain matters in a way that they haven’t had to before –  improving understanding of the correct institutional knowledge.

Storytelling also stimulates creativity. It gives staff, drawn from across the organisation, the chance to collaborate on something new that everyone will see. So the pressure is on but, oh, the kudos if they get it right!

I coach onboarding teams to draw out the company’s historical timeline. Milestones that were hard to win, prove easy to forget and are then lost forever. Leaving a culture that lacks dimensions.

Once the story’s ready, everyone in the company should re-onboard. Starting with the boss.