Partnering for Onboarding

George Bradt
Principal of the CEO Connection and
Managing Director of PrimeGenesis

Do you remember your mother telling you not to swim alone – especially in rough conditions? She was right. Bringing someone onboard a team in this business environment is exactly one of those situations where people should not swim alone. Don’t let them. They won’t like what happens. Your mother won’t like what happens.

Perhaps our most important learning regarding onboarding people is that they can’t do it on their own – whether they’re joining from inside or outside the organization. Their most important swim buddy is their boss, closely followed by peers, subordinates, mentors, coaches, and outside helpers like us. Like most things, acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members works best when people work together.

  • ACQUIRE: Identify, recruit, select, and get people to join the team.
  • ACCOMMODATE: Give new team members the tools they need to do work.
  • ASSIMILATE: Help them join with others so they can do work together.
  • ACCELERATE: Help them (and their team) deliver better results faster.

As you’re bringing someone on board your team, helping others do so, or moving into a new role yourself, keep three things in mind:

1. Get a head start.

From the perspective of the hiring manager, new employee onboarding starts with getting key stakeholders aligned on the role and interdependencies before starting any internal or external recruiting as part of a total onboarding program. Then, right after the offer is accepted, the best hiring managers co-create a personal onboarding plan with new employees so they can get a head start on relationships and learning even before day one.

2. Manage the message.

Knowing that everything communicates, forwardlooking hiring managers understand that all interactions with candidates and with those candidates’ stakeholders model the behaviors and approaches they want candidates to take when they become employees.

For their part, the best leaders carefully manage everything they do and don’t do and say and don’t say to make sure they are communicating what they want to communicate – not what they don’t want. Those making internal moves understand that they can’t make a clean break with their “old” group, managing the message with them as well.

3. Help others deliver.

After day one, the only thing new employees can do all by themselves is fail. Delivering any result in any organization requires them to work with and through others. Thus, the most successful people invest heavily in converging into the new culture or sub-culture and then accelerating progress as a team. And the most successful hiring managers help new employees and their teams deliver by providing resources and support as needed behind the scenes.

So getting a head start, managing the message, and helping others deliver is a good framework for improving success for both hiring managers and new employees – and the antidote to swimming alone.