Through the Main Door: The Importance of Onboarding on Culture

How do you successfully onboard a new team member from day 0? An aspect that’s often overlooked when first diving into doing company culture right is the onboarding process. Culture is an essential component to every dimension of an organization’s life: from recruiting new team members to interacting with clients, a thoughtfully crafted company culture will shine through in each step of the way. Similarly, a toxic culture will permeate all interactions and experiences within the company.

Imagine: you make the decision to make a solid investment and bring in world-class experts to help you design a thriving company culture that will attract and engage High Achievers. As a part of the cultural design, you meticulously compose a recruitment process in alignment with your company values by creating a series of steps that will determine whether an applicant is a High Achiever and a good fit for the team. After a thorough, culturally aware selection, you pick the most outstanding candidate who is thrilled to join the team and start bringing value to the company. But then you onboard the new team member by just sending them the password to their company e-mail and a manual to learn within the first few days. This contact —which in many cases will be the only interaction between the company and the new hire— leaves the talent feeling disconnected and let down on their expectations. The initial excitement wears off, and you miss the opportunity to start this journey on a high note. What could you have done differently? And why is it worth it to onboard on culture?

A First Approach to Cultural Onboarding

The first thing to keep in mind in order to create an engaging onboarding process is communication. Your new rockstar team member feels excited about joining the company, and you’re probably equally excited about them. However, an e-mail with some admin details and documents to read doesn’t convey enthusiasm, spark inspiration, nor does it set them up for the adventure ahead. Instead, a better way to go about this is to welcome your new talent by allowing them direct quality time with their leader. Working together, sharing stories, and understanding each other, if done in a way that’s culturally aligned, will make for a smooth onboarding where the new hire swiftly becomes familiar with the ins and outs of the company. The leader’s expert guidance through these nuances will help the team member get an accurate feel for what the company is doing and how they fit in the team.

Another key part of welcoming your new talent through the main door is treating them like they are 100% a part of the team from day one. There’s no denying that time and experience will often make team members extraordinary and also that a new hire will have a long path of learning ahead. However, starting off by bringing them fully into the team will allow them to gain experience from the very beginning while empowering them to assume their new position with confidence as well as helping them feel valued and respected as team members.

Finally, an unusual but valuable principle for onboarding a new team member is to have them co-create the onboarding with their director. As a leader, you are an expert on your own company, and it is always helpful to have some general guidelines on what a new hire needs to know as they join the team. But if you are recruiting on culture and your new talent is a High Achiever (or a High Potential), they will most likely be aware of how they function, how they learn and how they perform. They will be inquisitive and smart about what they need in order to excel at their new role and, if you are doing company culture right, you will embrace that and take advantage of it in order to make wonderful things happen. Therefore, it is a good idea to tailor the onboarding process in accordance with who your new team member is and to allow them to have input on what they need, what they think is covered, and what they feel is being left out. By listening, you can ensure that your new hire fits perfectly into their position and that you’re setting the grounds for them to thrive.

The Bottom Line: An Investment for the Future

Rome was not built in a day, and neither are successful company cultures. Culture design takes time, commitment, and expertise, but it also is one of the most vital decisions you can make for your company. In that context, onboarding comes about as an investment in your new talent as a human and as a team member. Crafting an onboarding process in alignment with your culture and in consideration of who your new hire is is a way of making sure that you are setting them up for success from day one. If your company is doing culture right, if you are recruiting on culture and bringing only High Achievers (or High Potentials) into the team, onboarding on culture is an investment that will promote unparalleled employee engagement, boost productivity and ultimately return as exceptional value for your company.

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