Ask IA: What Am I Missing in Onboarding?

Leadership | Collaboration

My company has grown significantly over the last few years. We went from an organization of just under 100 to over 300 and counting today, all within about three years. I feel as though we hired so quickly that there wasn’t enough time to build out a proper onboarding experience. We cover the essentials around the HR requirements and team onboarding. But, I feel like something is missing. What are areas you feel are essential outside of the basic onboarding plan?

- Overwhelmed HR Director


Dear Overwhelmed HR Director,

I remember starting at a new company years ago. My focus—aside from learning my job responsibilities—was figuring out the culture I was joining and getting to know the people I’d be working with.

I’ll provide three elements of the Interaction Associates onboarding process that could be helpful in your situation.

Build Working Agreements
Interaction Associates has been a fully remote company for over four years. In order to be successful in this environment, we build basic agreements with employees during their onboarding process on how employees will work. These agreements may be different depending on your work environment, but they could look what’s listed below.

Build agreements on:

  • Response time for internal emails
  • Typical working hours for scheduling meetings
  • Informing the team of out of office days with an up-to-date calendar
  • How often an individual will meet with their manager or others on the team
  • If you’re hybrid, expectations on when they’ll be in the office

Building working agreements and setting clear expectations helps establish a culture of accountability and action which leads to better results and job satisfaction.

Intro Meetings
An important part of our onboarding process is booking “intro meetings” for our new hires with as many colleagues as possible in the first few weeks.  

The biggest takeaway from these meetings, aside from the excitement of getting know each other on a personal level as well as professionally, is the understanding of how we all form the framework that leverages our complimentary skills to work better together in support of the company strategy.

Companies that skip this important step run the risk of losing employees or creating a culture of coworkers who are not enrolled in the values and mission of the company and are just there for the paycheck.

If you’ve grown quickly as an organization and have not had the time to create opportunities for connection during the onboarding stage, you can start with your next new hire and create opportunities for existing employees to meet with others outside of their team or discipline, it’s never too late!

The Big Picture
An important tool we teach in our program, Essential Facilitation™ is The Big Picture – This tool paints the picture of the current state (where we are now), what is your vision of the future (where you want to be) and how will you get there. This tool helps illustrate a team or organization’s strategy and how individuals fit into it.

This will help your new hire gain a sense of ownership and an understanding of their place in the larger organization.

If you take the time to create a culture where people are valued for their contributions and enrolled in your vision of the future, you’ll have their support to get there.

Our CEO, Barry Rosen recently wrote an article about retaining new employees via a reimagined onboarding process. In the article, Barry provides a list of five foundational skills critical for new hire success that you can keep in mind during the hiring and onboarding process.

One last tip I’ll provide: Onboarding is a great opportunity to provide professional development training to your new hire. When an organization makes this investment from the start, the employee feels more engaged, gets up to speed quickly, and can take an informed, tactical approach to issues and challenges. IA offers a variety of training that will provide your new hire with practical skills to make an immediate impact in your organization. Click here to learn more about our offerings.

About Nina Fojaco Reed

Nina’s mission is to help her clients connect with the tools and solutions that will help them achieve success in their professional and personal lives. She brings more than 20 years of client support experience and has worked with a broad range of businesses. Her expertise includes strong communication and leadership skills, dedication to exceptional service, and excellent problem-solving capabilities.