Onboarding Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

Learning Culture  |  Tips & Tricks  |  March 28, 2019

Onboarding takes time to build and (at least 90 days) to execute when an employee joins the organization.  Protect your investment by avoiding common mistakes found in even the best-intentioned onboarding programs.

  • Confusing Orientation with Onboarding. HR paperwork, compliance courses, and logistics that take place within the first few days are part of the Orientation.  Onboarding is a process of integrating a new employee into the organization, and into the role, so he/she can deliver results effectively and efficiently.
  • Kicking off 90-days of onboarding training with the rules. Explaining rules, policies, and procedures must be part of the first 90-days on the job, but how about starting out by sharing the contributions and value your new team member brings to the role?  Imagine how great it would feel to go to work every day knowing you are a critical player.  Start the onboarding there!  Make connections between the work this person performs and the company’s success.
  • Skipping over the company culture. Hopefully, you’ve intentionally built a company culture, but even if you haven’t one certainly exists. Be sure onboarding clues all new hires in on the company culture (not the office politics).  For example, are you a “pitch in even if it’s not your job” environment?  Or maybe, it’s a “warm, friendly, we treat everyone like family” kind of place.  Whatever your culture is, make sure your new teammates understand it so they can fit in with it!
  • Missing opportunities to clearly define the role and expectations. Ideally, the job description and interview and selection processes provided a realistic picture of the job and the expectations, but be sure the onboarding training plan includes skills and milestones, so the new hire knows precisely what is expected, how it will be evaluated, and by when.
  • Neglecting to provide feedback. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. Be sure that all onboarding programs—all company activities for that matter—have a feedback loop built in.  It’s essential to offer, and seek, feedback. Setting feedback expectations and offering a feedback framework from the start is critical for ongoing success and open dialogue.
  • Creating silos of activities. It’s common to focus the first 90 days of training on the “stuff” of the job.  Avoid onboarding that only focuses on the “how” and misses opportunities to explain the “why.”  Be sure to establish the context and paint the picture of how one task/activity is a domino in a chain. Don’t miss the chance to connect skills and to the bigger picture. Adults learn best when they can fit the puzzle pieces together.

Looking for help designing a great onboarding program? Contact us today to learn about our KnowledgeForce DIY Onboarding offering.

For more information, read our complete employer’s guide on corporate learning and employee engagement.

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