What words come to mind when you think about onboarding for a new job?
For me, it’s “exciting,” “slightly scary” and “overwhelming”. In the first days at a new organisation, you need to navigate through a pile of information and remember the names and responsibilities of colleagues—all while seeming immensely competent. Quite exhausting, don’t you think?
Luckily, there’s something organisations can do about it. I’ve recently experienced how crucial a well-thought-through onboarding experience was to put my mind at ease and how it enabled me to hit the ground running in just a couple of days.
So let me share with you what I think Julia Reis Consulting gets right about its onboarding process (disclaimer: It was my idea to write this and not a task I needed to complete 😉):
Onboarding describes the process of integrating a new colleague into an organisation by familiarising them with their tasks and the company’s culture and policies.
If onboarding goes well, new team members will be more likely to succeed in their roles, embody company values and form personal connections. It’s a crucial moment to get off on the right foot; several statistics show the importance of a good onboarding process. One example: Companies with strong onboarding experiences improved retention of new hires by more than 80% and productivity by over 70%.
Here’s an overview of six practices that helped me to feel welcome at Julia Reis Consulting and to take on tasks with little guidance quickly:
A small gesture goes a long way: I received a book with a personalised message in my (analog) mailbox before my official start. I’m all in for remote-first workplaces and paperless working, but sometimes it’s so nice to hold something in your hands. Receiving this gift also reassured me that there’s someone waiting who wants me to look forward to my first day.
You jump from onboarding call to onboarding call and simply can’t digest any more input. Sounds familiar? Onboarding is a prime time for information overload: Colleagues are excited that you’re there and want to share all their knowledge with you as quickly as possible.
Julia Reis Consulting strikes a great balance between synchronous deep dives and Q&As and asynchronous learning opportunities. Here’s what I mean:
If onboarding were a supply chain, Julia Reis Consulting would get a golden start for just-in-time delivery: Many onboarding deep dives into bigger topics are perfectly aligned with an opportunity to directly apply the new knowledge. I had an intro to best practices in Canva directly before being tasked to design some merch for one of our clients. This connection of theory, immediate application and quick feedback helped me to master new tools and consulting areas quicker than I ever did before.
I like to see what’s coming, you too? As soon as I joined the organisation, my calendar was marked with various meetings—not just for the first few weeks, but for the first six months. Weekly 1:1s, regular feedback sessions, an internal Christmas party, OKR planning…
This forward-looking approach sets clear expectations and nurtures a culture of consistent feedback. I don’t mind spontaneous check-ins and ad hoc changes, but some things shouldn’t just be done “when we get to it”.
This leads me to my next point:
A clear highlight was our initial feedback conversation (in week one!), where we aligned on expectations, my role and our collaborative styles. Unpacking our reasons for joining forces, success metrics and individual collaboration needs was enlightening and provided me with a guideline to refer back to.
We also spent quite some time answering why we each signed the work contract. This was a clear first to me: How often has an employer told you in great detail why they decided to work with you? It wasn’t only great to hear what unique qualities my manager sees in me but also to understand what larger goals the organisation is trying to achieve and how they’re envisioning my contribution to it.
Plus, in line with our internal feedback cycle, we use an ongoing template for feedback conversations. The template lets us pick up previous discussion points easily and observe developments over time. Are you curious about this template? It’s a key component of our Feedback Essentials Tool; you can find more information here.
One of the cultural values that drew me to Julia Reis Consulting is “Honesty & authenticity”: We aim to speak the truth (internally and with our clients) and show our true selves. While we’re not a “work family” and don’t strive to be one, “honesty & authenticity” are much easier if you know how you and others tick. In my first weeks, we took a closer look and used several instruments:
Of course, there is not only one way to do onboarding well, and the elements and practices you choose depend on your organisation’s specific needs. But I assure you that thinking it through will be worth your time and money (and that of your new hire). Because if onboarding is done well both the new joiner and the organisation can really trust the process.
→ Would you like to improve your organisation's onboarding process?
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