When I'm closing in on the start date for a new contract at a new customer, I usually ping them to see that everything is "good to go" and what time to start etc. At one time, I thought: "Na. Let's see what happens if I don't ping them". The day came and I turned up at 09.00 AM as that's a normal time to start on the first day here in Sweden. No one knew I was coming. The receptionist looked somewhat puzzled and embarrassed. She called the person (let's call him Charles) that was in charge for the apartment. He tried to keep his face and acting as he knew I was coming. Then we met with the next person in charge (let's call him Bob). Bob was the first person to be honest and admit the failure. He thought it was another Daniel that was coming. Charles even thought I had turned the contract down. Bob didn't. He just mixed me up with someone else and had no idea when I was coming. Well at least there was a computer and credentials for me to use, which was evidence that someone knew I was coming. But that was about it. I asked if I should go home and come back when they had gotten into order. I believe they were too embarrassed to say: "Yes. That's probably the best idea". The rest of that week was very unproductive. And I can tell you. I didn't feel very impressed. Two managers. Both failing miserably in making a good impression.
That was their first real chance of impressing me. Answering questions like: Is this a place where I think I will feel appreciated at? A place where I would recommend others to work at? A place where I would consider getting employed at? This is why onboarding is important. And it's not hard to collect scores in this area. Welcoming instructions and a proposed date and time should be sent out to the person being onboarded. Where to go. Whom to meet. Codes and keys for building access should be as ready as they can be. A workplace with necessary equipment should be in place. Credentials and all authorization accesses should be in place. Short information about the person should have been communicated to the department and team to whom he/she is about to join. A mentor should have been assigned. The person should have been included in calendar invitations. Important links and information about time reporting etc. should be in place. During the first days you should communicate near term goals. Provide some basic information/education of the domain etc. There's a lot of information that need to be provided and to be taken in. And I do believe the Mentor need to be good at reading signals to ensure the new member isn't overwhelmed by information.
A simple checklist of 10 things I believe is somewhat common sense when it comes to onboarding a new member.
- Welcoming instructions with a proposed date & time and whom to meet and where should be sent out to the person being onboarded.
- Any codes and/or keys for building access should be as ready as they can. E.g sometimes access cards need to be complemented with a photo.
- A workplace with necessary equipment should be in place. If options exists, those should have been checked on beforehand.
- Credentials and all authorization accesses should be in place.
- Affected department and teams should have been provided with short information about the new member.
- A mentor should have been assigned.
- Important links and information about time reporting, required courses etc. should be in place.
- Calendar invitations for all standing and upcoming team appointments should have been sent.
- Go through team communication tools (Slack, Teams etc).
- During the first days you should communicate near term goals and provide some basic information/education of the domain etc.
All in all, I think it boils down to:
Make a good impression and make the person feel welcomed.
That shouldn't be to hard, should it? Nevertheless, we still miss a few things here and there. I've never experienced a flawless onboarding. The one thing that never gets right is authorization (at least I've never been provided to much access). I'm not sure I will make this experiment again. Perhaps if the reason I was hired was due to helping out with some problematic leadership position or process regarding onboarding. Otherwise, I'll stick to giving them a friendly reminder.