Starting a job these days is an odd business because most people won't actually meet most of their new colleagues, face to face, for a very long time.
This means that the newbie has to rely even more heavily on people who form the reception party for them. In turn, any good reception party is like a high-end sat NAV which will get the person to the right place i.e. operational, as soon as possible.
A good onboarding sat NAV will do at least 3 things:
They will speak in plain terms, or at least translate the local company language into words that the new person can actually understand! Company jargon is often used, unconsciously, asa way of displaying and reinforcing a company’s culture. That's great when you're on the inside – they just need to make it easy for somebody who's coming in from the outside.
A good on boarding satNAV will be quick to tell the newbie when they're about to take a wrong turn.Equally the new person should feel comfortable, quickly, about asking the ‘dumb question’. Therefore the reception committee should be selected for their ability to put people at their ease. And if that reception committee just happens to be you on your own, you know what to do!
The new starter also quickly needs to understand how all the bits of the organisational jigsaw fit together. By that, I mean that they need to understand the obvious and less obvious dependencies of their job and of the organisation as a whole. An org chart in words and pictures is really helpful here.
So what does all this look like in practise? Three things: regular face time with the new boss during which the newbie can discuss the job ask questions and get feedback. Secondly, planned time, with all the right people, very early on is essential. A good bonus, because it's difficult to remember everything the first time around, is to have a second scheduled slot about a month later with the same people. And lastly a good onboarding sat NAV will always provide some sort of social ritual to welcome the person to the organisation. The first weeks of someone’s tenure are incredibly important times during which the individual is hoping to make the best possible impression in order to reassure the organisation that they made the right choice. Equally the organisation should begin the ongoing process of reassuring the individual that they too have made the right choice by joining.