How not to suck at integration
As the CEO of a company that placed several thousand employees remotely, I’ve seen a lot of people on board, and I’ve seen more than my share of onboarding issues. In today’s tight job market and with an uncertain economy on the horizon, you can’t afford to go wrong. Operationalizing an onboarding practice as one of your company’s core competencies pays off big time with fewer bad hires, faster onboarding of new employees, and happier, more productive people.
You want your new hires ready to go. But the failure of integration makes this difficult.
Here are the common characteristics of an onboarding gone wrong.
The anatomy of an integration failure
Integration failure generally looks the same regardless of company. Most of the time, companies that do a bad job fail to do the following things:
- The new employee is not informed about the company, what they are building, the mission of the company or the key elements of the company culture.
- The company did not communicate KPIs and OKRs.
- Daily planning and communication policies are loose or absent.
- The company failed to get new hires to meet key people to get them up to speed.
- The company has no mentorship or job shadowing program in place to guide the new recruit through their first three months.
- The new recruit doesn’t know what success looks like in his position.
- The new employee does not know how they will be assessed and there are no checkpoints to assess onboarding success.
Onboarding issues often start on the very first day when critical information is not delivered. If you allow this to happen, you will set your new team member up for failure from the start.
The moment you know you have a problem, a loss of mutual trust between you and the new team member is likely. If things have gone really bad, you might be better off starting with a new candidate than trying to salvage a rough start. To avoid this undesirable scenario, we advise our clients to adhere to a very structured approach like the one we implement ourselves.
How the best organizations integrate talent
Onboarding a new hire remotely is arguably one of the most important things you can add to your core competencies if you want to ensure the success of your new hires. This is our standard practice as well as the method we recommend to our clients.
Related:The Importance of Day One
To give you some background, my company, Turing, specializes in finding, vetting and managing engineering talent remotely. We have over 160,000 developers on our platform from over 140 countries able to write code in over 50 programming languages. Our business success is built on achieving smooth and successful start-ups for thousands of new hires per year spread across the globe. Critical to success is ensuring that each time we match an individual with a company, they get up to speed and integrate seamlessly into their new team as quickly as possible. Here’s how we do it:
Remote employee team onboarding done right
My integration process has three main dimensions. The first is to make sure they have the right business context. The second is to make sure they have the right background of people. And the third is making sure you have the proper checkpoints in place to verify that the new hire is progressing at the rate you expect.
Let’s talk about the business context first. When preparing a company to onboard new hires, I want them to provide their new hires with some essential information, including:
- A brief description of what the company does and the product it makes.
- The company’s mission and core values.
- An explanation of the strategy for accomplishing the mission.
- The OKRs or high-level quarterly objectives for the company.
- A copy of the organization chart.
Communicating this information ensures that your new people will have the required business context on what is essential to succeed in your business.
If your remote additions are geographically distant, I make sure to establish my communication expectations regarding time zones, overlapping work hours, and expected response times for different communication modalities. It’s especially important to clarify working hours, so everyone knows the hours the remote team member will be available and when they will be working.
Timing your communication is of utmost importance when working with distributed talent. You want your team to be calibrated to the time window during which everyone will be available and reachable.
It often amazes me that people working for a company don’t understand how their business is organized, so don’t underestimate the importance of sharing your company’s organizational chart. You can also use high-level visualizations that show all the different company projects. The goal is to convey how these projects connect.
Related: Integrating Your Gen Z Teammates
It is important that everyone knows who is leading which projects and who are the people involved in these different projects. Giving your new people this conceptual understanding of all the different projects that could take place in a business is vital.
Another practice we recommend to our clients is to ask them to name the four people in their company that the new employee needs to talk to in the first month to be fully operational.
Another essential part of a successfully operationalized onboarding practice is to assign a friend or mentor to your new team member and make sure they’ve been introduced. The role of the buddy is to be the primary person the new hire relies on for company information or inter-company routing for required resources.
As part of our onboarding process, we make sure it’s clear who’s managing the new hire and we make sure you’ve facilitated an introduction. I also find it helpful to ensure that every new hire knows when they will receive performance reviews, the cadence and the format of those reviews. Every new person you bring into your organization should have a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful in your business.
We do 30, 60 and 90 day check-ins with every person we onboard. The goal is to make sure your new hires know who is doing this check and what they will be evaluating.
Regular check-ins give you a valuable opportunity to correct your course in case something has gone wrong.
Beyond basic integration
Future headaches can be avoided by ensuring that any new hire has completed all required forms and that all regulations specific to that person or the country where they reside are followed.
Don’t overlook the importance of intellectual property assignment agreements. Is the expertise you hire outside of the skills you have within your organization? Then invest in the services of a company that specializes in navigating territory that can be tricky. At Turing, we love Remote.com for this service.
The small things
Don’t overlook the mundane details of supplying the new recruit with all the team tech. This includes setting up their email and ensuring they have access to the company’s GitHub account, Slack channels, Trello, Jira, Google Docs, Zoom, and any other essential software your organization expects the person in as part of its workflow. Be sure to think about security, access privileges, mailing lists, etc. Another part of preparing your new hire for success is making sure they are aware of any staff meetings and company-wide meetings that person should attend.
Finally, know your company’s core values and make sure you communicate them clearly to whoever you’re onboarding. Be sure to communicate what makes your business special. By making sure all of these kinds of nuts and bolts are tight, your new employee will be more confident in their interactions with their team and they’ll integrate more fully into your business from day one.
Jonathan Siddhart is the CEO of Turingan online marketplace that connects software developers to jobs.