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How to do and not do onboarding – An experience of each from my own life.

By Karen Gubb

I emigrated just over a year ago and after landing in a brand-new country had 2 very different experiences of onboarding. The first left a lot to be desired and the second was excellent. Here are my learnings from these experiences.

Here are the lessons I learnt about what not to do when onboarding:

1. Assume Knowledge

Having trained and worked in a different country, I had different names for things and followed different processes. I was overwhelmed by 3 letter acronyms which it was assumed that I just knew. There were also assumptions made about my knowledge of the wider systems, culture and organisations that intersected with my new one. Since these were never introduced explicitly it created the opportunity for balls to be dropped or mistakes made. I felt out of my depth and stranded.

2. Delay training

I worked at the hospital and accessed the hospital’s IT systems for a full month before I received any training on them. In that time, I muddled through, but after the training it was clear that I had not been using the system as efficiently or effectively as I could have been.

3. Rush for a result

The hospital that I joined was so short staffed that there was an urgent need for my skills, and I was expected to start working immediately. Without any onboarding or training, I was at the coal face immediately but felt untethered and disconnected from my colleagues which resulted in me leaving after just a short time. In this case the hasty pursuit of the onboarding process had ultimately resulted in a loss of talent.

My second experience was completely different. Here are some ideas of what works well when onboarding someone:

1. Meeting the team before starting

I was invited to have a tour of the new hospital before starting. I also met my new team. This gave me a sense of belonging and significantly reduced uncertainty.

2. Having a scheduled orientation

On the day I arrived, my physical and IT access was already organised. I received a schedule of the first week of my orientation. This included meeting everyone that I was going to work with, and importantly all the support functions (like HR and finance) too.

3. A gentle introduction

I was given the opportunity to observe every task that I was eventually going to complete before being responsible for completing it. This meant that I felt confident and knowledgeable when I was eventually in the driver’s seat.

This second experience created a sense of wellbeing and eventual loyalty to the organisation. I was also left feeling confident in, and trusting of my leaders and the organisation.

These experiences impacted me profoundly and I take these learnings into my own work with teams. Teamery can help you with your onboarding and to develop a strategy that works well and will deliver good results.

If you would like to know more about how Teamery is partnering with clients to support their thinking and design practical solutions to improving the hybrid working experience please contact us at to set up a preliminary discussion.

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