Each organisation is unique. The mixture of multiple parameters such as clients, business goals, values and markets makes it difficult and even impossible to apply directly an onboarding process of one company to another. Nevertheless, looking at the processes at Futurice, Vincit, Netlight and Ministry I could identify some similarities.
What I struggled with was the understanding why they exist. Until I bumped into a great book “Learning 3.0” by Alexandre Magno. The book goes deep explaining how human brain learns new things and why many existing practices are not effective.
Reading it I realised that onboarding is a learning process.
Onboarding is a learning process.
New employees learn about the values, structures, processes, colleagues and products an organisation has. The organisation learns about the values, habits, skills and behaviour of new employees.
What if we look at the principles of learning process in modern complex environments and see how they apply to real life examples? Sounds like a plan to me!
At Vincit every employee has a company credit card. They can use their cards on any occasion which brings value to their colleagues, the company or the clients. Yet it’s very difficult for new people to start spending company’s money. They need to learn how to make such decisions easily.
At the end of the probation period a new employee should order a cake and invite everyone to celebrate that day. Of course on behalf of the company.
The act of buying a cake is a small but powerful learning trick. On one hand it’s a safe and easy-to-make decision as the amount is small. On the other hand the employee gets some confidence in making similar decisions in the future. She already knows that she is encouraged to spend money for different improvements.
The only thing she needs to get deeper next time is to learn how to spend larger amount of money.
They create multiple opportunities for people to learn and suggest them to take part in learning.
For example, each two months IT department hosts an introduction seminar where they share what they do, how they could help new employees with their issues and what the best ways to reach them are. The seminar is publicly announced and everyone is encouraged to visit it. The employees could also watch the recording of the seminar later, post a question in #IT channel or ask for a clarification during lunch.
New employees could choose when and how to learn new things about the company.
Indeed sharing makes you structure new information you learned as most of us don’t want to share an unorganised stream of data. It also gives an opportunity to others to point out your mistakes in understanding.
At Futurice and Vincit there are regular feedback sessions with mentors and coaches where new employees could share what they learned and ask for the feedback. At Netlight the lunches with different people serve the same purpose.
In my previous post, Building a Network I showed that creating many strong connections inside the company should be a goal of any onboarding process.
It’s fully in line with the principle #5.
There are other interesting principles. The one I like most is Visualising learning is better than measuring it. Unfortunately I know no examples of it. If you have a few, please share them in comments.