By John O'Connor
Employers who bring on new candidates should have a strong "onboarding" program. Ensuring that a new employee gets the right orientation and mainstreaming (onboarding) used to be a big priority. For some companies it's still a priority; however, too many companies don't equip new employees and executives with proper onboarding programs. With a general cutback mentality malaise, many companies hurriedly bring new talent on. Doing this haphazardly creates confusion and lessens the impact new talent can have. They don't create the kind of new employee experience that they should. But you can help them and make it a priority to create your own onboarding experience if your new company falls short. Feeling welcome, valued and prepared needs to be a priority for companies but you can have a lot to do with the onboarding process. Here are three ways to ensure you have a positive onboarding experience:
ENSURE THAT YOU INVEST IN TRAINING - Even as an executive, especially now, many companies don't think they need to train you on how their company works. They need to invest in training, invest in you and if you can insist on anything extra then insist on training. But look for ways you can ensure that you get the training you need. Create your own mini-training program. Develop a "I need to know" list and ensure that you find out about the little things. For example, one of my clients knew that having SAP knowledge would be an extra benefit to him in coming months at his new company. So instead of waiting for the company to train him, he pushed himself to get that training, off-hours and on his own in the first 30 days of his new job. An executive team member reported that the CEO was "surprised and impressed" that he "took this kind of ownership mentality" in his new position.
PROPERLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF, EVEN INFORMALLY TO KEY PERSONNEL - According to one of my clients, half the time companies that hire don't introduce you to anybody who will be important to you. Taking the time to make proper, very personalized introductions to each person you need to know matters. It's worth the time. So if the company doesn't do it, you need to find out who you need to know and quietly, subtly get to know them one by one. A recent client who transitioned made it a point to have a cup of coffee with one new person twice a week quite informally. This created trust. Getting to know people without a hard agenda helped him "adjust" to the new culture quickly.
LACK OF HR INVOLVEMENT - Sometimes companies that hire just give you a benefits book and forms. They will often send an electronic forms, and new employees have no idea how to get this properly in place. This can create a lot of problems down the road. Who do you contact when a health issue arises regarding payment or reimbursement? Do you contact the company or the benefits department? Without being a pest, a recent executive client of ours found out about "what happens if" and actually helped HR at his new company create new standards for onboarding by improving the benefits communication process in the new employee manual. He made a friend in HR and improved the company.
Find out creative ways you can define onboarding to create the new employee experience you need for a fast start. As an executive, take it upon yourself to refine the experience.