I remember two onboarding experiences the most. Joining Google was an amazing experience, I felt like a hero in a hero’s parade. Joining a Swiss Investment Bank made me question my life choices.
At Google, I had clear instructions sent to me well in advance about what to expect, where I was supposed to show up. I was taken step by step like clueless tourist in a packaged tour. There was one whole week of super interesting lessons about the ins-and-outs of Google, from the amazing (how does search work) to the mundane (how do I log in to my own computer). It was like being a Disney World. My manager personally came to pick me up from the cafeteria where us nooglers (new googlers) would be hanging out to take me to my brand new desk ready for me to start learning more.
At the bank I had to convince the receptionist that I worked there, get her to issue me a badge and then give me some instructions on how to find my team. When I finally did I and said hello to my manager he said:
Oh, I forgot you were starting today. I didn’t order your computer, I’m doing that now, it’ll take 2 weeks. Go find someone to pair with.
I was faced with a sea of 200 grumpy-looking people of which about 4 were in my team but I wasn’t sure who, or their names, and there was no way for me to find out. This is a horrible way of onboarding socially awkward introverts. It made me feel bad for weeks, months even.
When designing an onboarding process for your new staff, I believe this is the strategy to follow: don’t make newcomers do any work other than what you are paying them for.
New staff shouldn’t spend any amount of time trying to figure out the company, navigating complex undocumented hierarchies of people, wondering what to do if their computer doesn’t start, finding out where critical information is stored by accident, learning what tools to use because they overheard someone else talk about it, not knowing where the central documentation is, etc.
If you like to learn more about staff onboarding tactics, let me know and I’ll write a follow up post. If you need any help designing the onboarding experience at your company feel free to contact me, I’m very passionate about it.