“Onboarding” primarily means managing expectations

Inspired-Careers | 24 August 2020

The theme of onboarding new employees is hot. Suppliers who develop apps for the onboarding process are rapidly increasing. The HR magazines and blogs are full of articles on this subject. Yet a lot still goes wrong. Onboarding specialist Ardiënne Verhoeven shares her most important advice with us.

Onboarding starts with recruitment

Onboarding starts with recruitment. At Inspired-Careers & Inspired-Talent we have known this for much longer, but it’s interesting how Ardiënne looks at it. She argues that from the very first moment of contact, the candidate already forms an image of a company. “That image is strengthened or adjusted during the interviews. At the moment of the “final sacrifice” the candidate says yes or no to the created image. If reality does not match this, there is a good chance that that person will decide to leave after just a few weeks or months”, says Ardiënne. Sometimes he/she waits a year before actually applying for a job – after all, you have to think about your resume too! – but no onboarding program can hold that person. “And it’s just a question of whether you would want to, because what use is an employee who can’t realize his personal goals and ambitions in your company?”, she wonders.

Tell how the wheel spin

Ardiënne observes that many employers still think too much about the formalities that have to be completed when a new employee joins the company: arrange for him to get a laptop, point out where the coffee machine is located and shake hands with 40 new colleagues. “While the really important information, such as knowing how to get something arranged, how the wheel is spinning and who important cooperation partners are going to be, are often omitted. A political antenna for how the organization works and an internal network you build yourself, that’s the idea”.

Don’t think of on-boarding as a tick

Some companies still have an onboarding app, where new employees can find all the practical information that may be important. But it becomes a slippery slope when you see that onboarding app as a tick you have to put, says Ardiënne. “Because all the factual information in such an app naturally helps employees on their way. But in positions where you have to collaborate a lot with others and have a bit of an image of more soft factors in an organization – as is almost by definition the case in the supply chain – it is important to get some guidance. And an app doesn’t give it that”. Colleagues are much better at transferring this kind of information. Therefore, assign a close colleague who will act as a sort of buddy during the first period and guide the new employee through the organization.

Adjust onboarding to target group and objective

Onboarding is always customized, depending on the position, the person and the previous work experience. There is no such thing as a standard onboarding process for all new employees. In the first place, it makes quite a difference what kind of function it is, says Ardiënne. “A subject filler wants to be operational as soon as possible, while a supply chain director quickly needs six months to understand the supply chain, speak to all the people important to him and understand where the sensitivities lie”. For the professionals we mediate with Inspired-Careers, an onboarding process should take two to three months anyway, Ardiënne believes. “Because it just takes time for someone to know the organization well and understand how the organizational objectives translate into the supply chain”. The objective you have in mind with a new employee also determines the onboarding process. Someone who is going to handle operational tasks within a permanent team needs less guidance in building an internal network than someone who has to connect departments and come up with smarter ways of working together.

Make the candidate feel at home

Of course, Inspired-Careers is not an onboarding specialist, but we are happy to help and advise clients on this subject. After all, the better the onboarding process, the greater the chance that a candidate will feel at home in your company and excel. Moreover, onboarding starts with the recruitment and selection of a candidate, which is of course our profession. The first contact, the open and transparent outline of the organizational culture and the content of the role.

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By: Marielle van Gastel
Managing Partner Inspired-Careers