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Onboarding woes...

When people think of onboarding it is usually for hiring a new team member.

In reality we “onboard” all the time- when we hire subcontractors and consultants, when we get help from other teams in our company, and even when we outsource some of our operations.

Either way, we always want the other person or team to “get it” and we want it to happen fast.

The problem is that oftentimes, especially in small startups, the existing team is very busy doing their jobs, and they are not necessarily attuned to “teaching” it or don’t have enough time to invest in it. And there is so much explicit knowledge out there, in reports and documents, that can be thrown at the new hires.

The result is a suboptimal process that takes longer than hoped for, and very gradual ROI to say the least.

It is somewhat easier when dealing with experts because they would probably know enough about the job they’ve been hired for from their previous experience, but it would still take time until they get familiar with the project’s nuance- and expert's time is usually expensive.

So what can we do?

No magic tricks here, but for once- start early. It is best to invest these efforts when the team is at 80% capacity, and not when the house is burning. Taking the time to teach new members is usually an investment worth making- and I even help some companies maintain up to date, project-specific training materials, to be readily available when the day comes (and it always does!).

Second, encourage your teams to hold a central knowledge hub and update it on a regular basis. A single source of truth not only makes our lives easier when we onboard, but it is also helpful in many real-life situations such as due diligence and regulatory submissions, and it safeguards our knowledge assets from the inevitable leakage when people leave the team.

There are many ways to do this, especially with today's technology, but the main feature should be that it's easy to maintain.


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