Jim Collins once said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Finding the best talent can feel like an uphill battle for many startups, but the real test lies in the first few weeks or first month for any new employee.
Onboarding is a well-known practice in human resources (HR) management and one we know can create a huge impact here at Bizzabo. As the newest members of your team, these will be the people sharing lunch with each other, taking responsibility for huge projects that can make or break your company and eventually onboarding new hires themselves. Onboarding is more than logistics. It’s personal.
Companies can potentially waste tens of thousands of dollars on ineffective onboarding. Many of the misguided strategies revolve around a sink-or-swim mentality, a completely do-it-yourself from scratch plan, or at worst, the dreaded excessive hand-holding. Rather than falling into one of these pitfalls, we’ve developed a methodology that easily aligns Bizzabo’s core values with the potential ingenuity and excitement each new hire can bring to the table.
Here are five steps to creating an effective onboarding experience at your startup.
1. Have a plan.
The onboarding process should begin when a new employee accepts the offer, with simple tasks given to them before they arrive on their first day. These tasks ensure that they learn what the company does as well as the platform they would be required to use. We use the task management platform Trello to easily assign deadlines and let the new employee have more control over their own onboarding. An assessment is held once all the tasks are complete to see where there are gaps in knowledge.
2. Connect to the roots.
The first day of employment is always a stressful for both the new hire and management. But rather than expecting your new employee to jump right into getting it done, there is great value in having them listen and learn while still getting their feet wet. The new hire gets immersed in the company’s culture by learning about its history, structure and its industry as a whole. This allows them to soak it all in and understand the core of who you are.
3. Assign ownership from day one.
People are fast learners and flourish when given responsibility. The onboarding plan reflects this, as it includes two types of tasks, self-guided and guided. New hires are charged with scheduling meetings with every team member and completing self-guided tasks within a specific timeframe.
Having a mixture of self-guided and guided tasks is necessary to let employees absorb new information at their own pace while also giving them a chance to learn from and connect with their fellow coworkers all while being guided by a fellow team member.
4. Ask a lot of questions.
In order to lower the barriers of future communication, new hires are asked to bother fellow employees. This has proven to have a direct impact on our company’s success and in building and strengthening relationships among team members. The main advantage is that through shared tasks, every employee meets and gets to know every member of the team.
New employees are also encouraged to ask work-related questions to anyone, including management. This allows them to expand their knowledge base and learn from the expertise of others. For larger companies, this can be applied to specific departments instead of an entire company.
5. Put the I in team.
As important as it is to submerge new hires into your company culture, it’s equally as important to make sure they feel that they are a unique new addition to the team. Every company has their little nuances that define their culture and make employees feel like they are part of something bigger. At our company, each new hire receives a cartoon avatar of their face that goes on their coffee mug, business card and on the website.
6. Utilize the fresh pair of eyes.
New hires bring fresh insights and perspectives. It’s important to encourage them to speak freely and ask questions. You need to balance your company’s culture with an environment that celebrates each member’s unique skills, background and thoughts. So take advantage of having a fresh pair of eyes. It often takes but one simple question to reveal the weak spots in your product and service.
Recruiting new hires can be a stressful time for companies. It is hard work and very time consuming, especially when you are in pursuit of the perfect match. But the job isn’t over just because someone has signed a contract.
Take the opportunity to inject your core values from day one with your employees, familiarizing new hires with the office environment, company structure, culture and methods of working through self-guided and guided tasks that foster independence and confidence in their decision making. And remember, a new team member can always bring that fresh perspective you were looking for if only given the chance.