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Fixing the Leaky Pipe in Onboarding

Kristen Buchanan

One of the most common things we hear from organizations is that not having an onboarding process means ramp-up is inefficient and makes work harder for the rest of the team.

There’s really no way of getting around it; bringing on a new employee reduces the productivity of the team overall for a period of time.

But there are ways to optimize the onboarding process so that new team members ramp up quickly and feel supported, empowered, and can continue to do their best work.

Take the classic new hire “one-on-one” meetings as an example. Many companies work to facilitate team growth by tasking new hires to meet with current team members and stakeholders in their first few weeks of work.These introductory meetings can be extremely helpful (especially when the new hire is prepared) for the new hire to get a firm understanding of who they’ll be working with and how — but the process also takes a long time. In our work, we think of this process as a leaky pipe.

For each new hire added to a team, current employees must put their project work aside to sit with a new hire and give them the lay of the land.

Just one of these meetings can slow down a current team member’s entire day…so what happens when your company hires 10–15 new hires at once? What if those people are remote hires?

With this approach to onboarding, the new hire’s time to productivity can reduce the team’s overall efficiency, resulting in time and money wasted.

Rather than scheduling one-on-one meetings over and over again, an organization can cut down the time to onboard new employees by having stakeholders meet with several new hires at once, or in a group meeting.

Onboarding doesn’t just impact the new hire, but the entire team that the new employee joins. Thoughtful and effective onboarding can help teams stay efficient, and create an opportunity to build a positive team dynamic around a new hire.

Consider batching your new hire introductory meetings the next time you onboard a new group of employees, and ask your veteran employees if it helped them stay on track with their own work. Once you’ve transitioned to more efficient meetings, uplevel by documenting the knowledge and process those current team members are sharing with new one.

Doing this will start to fix that leaky pipe and save your team much-coveted time, giving them a chance to do what they were actually hired to do!

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