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Onboarding – A Leader’s Perspective

By Kerrin Miller

An effective onboarding into a team helps individuals to transition into their role and to become part of the wider team. It has the potential – if done thoughtfully and deliberately – to build a sense of belonging, to help integration into the team and to accelerate the time it takes to start making a productive contribution as an individual and also as a team member. Building a positive onboarding experience in these hybrid times holds both potential challenges and the possibility of throwing out the ‘Induction 101’ handbook and starting afresh.

As a team leader recently onboarding a new hire into my team, I navigated these challenges and possibilities first hand. Four key principles emerged, providing useful guideposts for leaders:

1. Understand that onboarding starts in the selection process.

The brand experience you’re building from the very first interaction needs to reflect your organisational, and team culture, values and way of working. Showcase this every step of the way. Even in Zoom or Teams interviews, and on-site interviews where everyone is cognisant of social distancing and mask protocols, make it welcoming and human. Include your wider team as much as possible in interviews. Showcase your team focus from the get go.

2. Get the basics in place. No excuses. And in advance.

A Welcome Pack - physical or digital ahead of the start date – including sign- on documents, introductory information, benefits details, laptops, log-ins, systems training, access cards – is essential. The practical and logistical can trip you up. Rally your team and internal partners to ensure the set up is done in advance.

3. Make it hybrid - structured; and flexible, in-person and virtual, asynchronous and in real time.

Have a plan – who will meet or call the new team member before their start date? What will be covered on Day One, Week One, Month One? What does the first 90-days looks like? How will you introduce the role, the team, the wider organisation? Start with less complex tasks and then build on these. Set up ‘meet and greets’ with the team and also other key stakeholders. Blend it so that elements are in-person and in the office; others virtual and asynchronous in a way that reflects your team’s hybrid approach.

4. Make it a team responsibility and tell the team’s stories.

If you’re committed to a team approach in your wider way of working, build this into the way a new member is onboarded. Ask the team what they wish they knew when starting, what they’re curious about now; ask the new team member to build their own additions and add this to the onboarding plan. Build in team ways of working and introduce team charters and canvases, team values and stories. Move from seeing onboarding through the lens of the ‘I’, to that of the ‘WE’. Co-create the approach and contract on key deliverables so that even these first few weeks have an output and contribution from the new teammate. Check-in often and find out how its going. Ask for feedback and adjust the experience as needed. Ensure the team is telling its story and integrating the new team member into this.

And build in some fun! Play is an important element in all teams and adding this to an onboarding experience can help break the ice and build social connections.

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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