3 Ways to Strengthen Company Culture Via Onboarding
I’ve written about the importance of onboarding new employees before. We know that successful onboarding provides a host of benefits for the employee and the organization, including faster time-to-value and a higher rate of retention, but did you know that onboarding also provides a way to solidify and strengthen organizational culture?
The first few months are critical not just for getting new employees up to speed, but this is when they are the most excited and the most impressionable. Make the most of this opportunity to indoctrinate culture by being direct. Maren Hogan, CEO of Red Branch Media, writes, “[S]hare with them your expectations, and help them to understand the specific values your company espouses. Do you value work ethic above all else? Now’s the time to drive that point home. Does excuse-making set your teeth on edge? If so, tell them. It will create more transparency around how they (and you) work.” Don’t miss out on the chance to proselytize your company culture from the beginning through joint goal setting, mentoring, and feedback.
Joint Goal Setting and Planning-
As much as self-starters and self directed employees are valued, onboarding is not something they should be doing themselves. This is a valuable time to harness that excitement by working together on goal setting, doing so creates space for an ongoing dialogue about job performance. “[O]n a new hire’s first day, make time for a one-on-one discussion. Ask them to name one high-level goal that they would like to achieve in their first 90 days. Then, design a roadmap that will put them on track to accomplish that goal and other critical work. This genuine interest puts both of you on the same page — and can work wonders for employee retention,” writes Brian de Haaf, founder and CEO of Aha!.
We all know there is the job we’re hired for and the job we actually do. When part of the onboarding is forming mentoring relationships with more seasoned peers, the outcome is more meaningful than just a top-down knowledge transfer. The newbie is learning about the actual experience of doing the work and not just “how” to do the work. More than just surviving the first few months, the employee is getting first-hand instruction on what it takes to thrive and excel in their new work environment.
Great onboarding programs are bi-directional, as even the most agile and progressive companies experience some degree of complacency. Erin Anderson, from CultureIQ writes, “A new employee is an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your business. As your rookie learns the ropes, ask them what’s going well and what they’re finding confusing or counterintuitive. By asking for their input early on, you’re sending the message that you value their opinions, and you’re also getting the chance to look at your company, products, and methods through fresh eyes.”
In conclusion, onboarding sets the tone for the experience they’ll have at your company. The best organizations and most successful leaders build a strong culture of innovation and continuous learning. The nature of many organizations like consultancies, agencies and technology in general, is fluid. As technology advances and new developments shape buyer behavior, there are countless opportunities to innovate and bring that experience to clients in each new project and through ongoing optimization of existing work. Model desired behaviors and outcomes with new employees from the start with joint goal-setting, ongoing mentoring, and by using feedback as a way to continually learn and improve business. Onboarding is more than just getting an employee started, it’s an opportunity to build and strengthen company culture.