Lifecycle Mastery: How to Do Onboarding Right

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Mar 2, 2017

This is part three of a five part look at how employers can master the talent lifecycle in a way that will help build a high performing workforce. Today’s post examines onboarding. Previous posts are listed at the end of this article.


Onboarding offers you the chance to get your new hires started off on the right foot. The best way to set them up for success is to focus on goal alignment.

Goal alignment is the process of directing your employees to work towards the large scale organizational goals. Essentially, you’re presenting your staff with a bigger picture perspective.

People are far more engaged in their work when they understand the why — when they have meaning behind the hours and energy they put forth. Aligning your goals ensures the output delivered by your staff is best utilized and focused on driving progress on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s take a look at how employers can get new hires in touch with the company’s goals during the onboarding stage of the talent lifecycle.

Share values, mission

Educating your staff on the company’s mission, core values, and vision for the future is the first step toward aligning goals. Unfortunately, most employees are left in the dark. Achievers’ The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement study found that 60% of the 390 employees surveyed in North America don’t know their company’s vision, and 61% don’t know their company’s mission or cultural values.

What’s more concerning is the inefficiency of most companies’ messaging. For those who do know the overarching mission, 57% of them are not motivated by it. The challenge is two-fold — making employees aware of these important aspects of the company’s identity and using them to motivate and inspire.

Tell your company story

Every step of your onboarding program should emphasize the values, mission, and vision in some way. When they don’t know the larger motivation behind the company, they are less enthusiastic or motivated.

The best way to inspire and engage new hires is by sharing your company’s story. Explain how the founders noticed a problem in the world that they wanted to fix. Describe the process that they took to create a business out of an important solution they designed.

Then, tie that into the meaning of why the company exists — what impact does your organization have on the world? When you can show employees the value that your whole team provides, they will feel inspired to be their best and make the most out of their onboarding experience.

A mentor for every new hire

Mentors introduce new hires to colleagues and officemates, helping them get acquainted with the culture faster. They provide a wealth of knowledge directly to the new hire, making them feel comfortable to approach them for advice.

Mentors and mentees get familiar and develop a close relationship. Praise and recognition is crucial during the early days, and mentors are the perfect people to congratulate newer employees on accomplishments. Their feedback is immediate and personal, which feels more authentic and sincere than an email from a higher-up.

Your mentorship program needs to be structured and aligned with your new hire’s long-term goals. For example, if they want to grow into management, ensure your mentor can teach them leadership skills. What’s more, mentors can advocate for them when it comes time to advance within the company.

Measure your onboarding

Measure how well your onboarding strategy is connecting with new hires. Do they understand their goals? Are they equipped to succeed? How did the community help them fit in?

When you know the effectiveness of your onboarding program, you can find what needs to be improved to ensure all new hires are onboarded properly. Check in frequently to gauge their understanding of expectations and to reinforce the bigger picture.

You’re not just looking at how your team helps new hires with doing their daily tasks and seeing how management treats them — you’re looking at how they approach goals.

Set anniversary based reviews to reflect on their performance and to look forward. Use real-time performance data to track how they’re meeting expectations. These metrics can inform the feedback you provide to help them stay on track and achieve their goals.

Ask for feedback

Employers aren’t the only ones who can give valuable feedback. You also want to hear from new hires. Conduct surveys and self-assessments to gauge their perspectives.

Make sure these sit-downs are two-way conversations. When management does all the talking, it can be disengaging for employees. Let new hires voice their opinion and make suggestions about not just how onboarding can be improved, but also how the company can better prepare new hires for success.

Focus on their thoughts on goal tracking and employee development. Make it clear that you offer opportunities for growth because that can be a big motivator. Learnkit’s 2015 Creating a Win-Win-Win Learning Strategy for Your Organization report found that 89% of employees feel it is important their employers support their learning and development.

Don’t just talk a big game — show your support for their development by prioritizing their growth throughout onboarding. You also want to measure how tenured employees and mentors assess the onboarding strategy to gauge how well you truly center on developing your new hires.

Refine your strategy

Put employee feedback into action. Look for gaps in perspective. For example, maybe your employees think they effectively helped the new hire assimilate into the culture, but your new hires say otherwise. If that’s the case, encourage employees to schedule lunches with new hires to build a stronger bond.

Similarly, if new hires still aren’t clear about their goals, it’s time for improvements. Change your goal alignment initiatives if they aren’t effectively cascading large scale objectives to each role. Use visuals through a performance management platform to show new hires how their progress impacts the bigger objectives.

After recruiting and hiring top talent, you need to use onboarding to get them focused on their future with your company. Once they get their footing in their current role, they need training and development to grow.

Then, performance management is the stage where you ensure they continue to hit their targets and contribute to large scale goals until they decide to leave, which is where succession planning is crucial. When you refine each stage, you’re ensuring that the entire talent lifecycle continually empowers the employee to grow and advance professionally — a commitment that your top talent deserves.

Other posts in this series:


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