Not too many years ago "employee orientation" was as minor, perfunctory task
|From The MRA Newsletter|
|Is "Onboarding" a Word?
By John Loven, MRA
|Eric Wood, President of EnviroSense, Inc., an
environmental consulting firm, understands why you should be worrying about
doing onboarding right: "With a thorough orientation and onboarding process,
the probability of achieving the goals of the business and the employee are
greatly increased. Without it, the probabilities of disappointment, employee
turnover, re-work, and dissatisfied clients all grow unnecessarily."
to a manager or HR staffer who happened to be free. Today the "onboarding" process is a
top priority which, in some cases, is partially outsourced to specialized vendors. Listen
An investment in effective onboarding is an investment in employee retention, morale, and
productivity. Research at Corning Glass Works revealed that employees who attended a structured
orientation program were 69% more likely to remain with the company after three years than those
who did not go through such a program. Another study conducted at Texas Instruments showed that
employees whose orientation process was carefully attended to reached "full productivity" two
months earlier than those whose orientation process was not. More recently, Hunter Douglas found
that by upgrading their onboarding process, they were able to reduce their turnover from a
staggering 70% at six months, to 16%.
Some suggest that your onboarding program be considered at three levels:
How does knowledge of the employee's MRA profile and the profile of the person(s) responsible
for onboarding make the process more efficient and more successful?
- Accommodation: Providing things that enable people to do work. This includes
getting them a workspace, phone, computer and other tools they will need.
- Assimilation: Providing things that enable people to work with others, including
the employee handbook, training materials, insights into current projects and the basics of
the corporate culture.
- Acceleration: Jump-starting critical strategic, operational and organizational
processes. This includes clarifying goals, establishing accountability and tracking systems, and
eliminating or redesigning "lagging" functions or suppliers that hold back the
rest of the effort.
Consider the five MRA profile groups. Each will respond most effectively to opportunistic
onboarding processes designed to make best use of profile strengths.
Profile Groups 1 and 5
Authoritarian, Generalist, Determined, Entrepreneurial, Planner:
Characterized by aggressive behavior and a need to dominate.
Initiator, Integrative, Integrative Rigid, and Organizer:
Characterized by strong sociability, they like to win more by persuasion and enthusiasm.
These individuals are aggressive, dominant and enjoy being in charge. They pursue
personal objectives with determination and vigor, and view these achievements as necessary
for personal growth. They like a fast start, broad-strokes guidance and a chance to explore and innovate.
What does this tell us about the most effective onboarding process?
Profile Group 2
- Accommodation: They will ask for (even demand) what they want and need. They will improvise
as necessary and scavenge
if needed. Expect a fast start and eager "can do" attitude, but expect impatience if the process of getting
to work is delayed.
- Assimilation: They will prefer a "learn as needed" approach to employee benefits, procedures,
corporate culture and so forth. They like quick learn-and-do cycles, rather than a comprehensive theoretical
basis prior to hands-on practice. Be very specific about those ares which are "must know", and be flexible about areas
in which they just need to know where the information is available when, and if, they need it.
- Acceleration: Their natural drive to get to work, be competitive, and have a broad-strokes approach makes
them very receptive to acceleration. They will respond well to a productivity challenge. If the work necessary to
achieve acceleration seems too detailed or analytical, however, they may become impatient.
Characterized by the need to be liked and by altruism, they need detailed direction and closure.
Personable, Persuasive, Promotional, and Service:
Also outgoing but more independent, requiring less policy and direction from others.
These individuals are very friendly, enthusiastic and outgoing. They will quickly blend into teams and
office society, and will be accepted because of their accommodating manner.
Although somewhat cautious in their approach to new or difficult problems, they will often
demonstrate a good sense of timing. A cordial atmosphere is important; they will avoid
contentious situations, seeking to keep things running harmoniously. Restless and uneasy
about how others may be evaluating them, they tend to hide a worrisome nature behind a self-confident
appearance. What does this tell us about the most effective onboarding process?
Profile Group 3
- Accommodation: They will ask for what they need politely and be flexible in adapting to the situation.
They will be hesitant to improvise or scavenge without managerial support. Expect a lot of discussion and
social bonding in the process.
- Assimilation: They enjoy variety, humor and good feelings in the learning process. At the same time they want
very specific guidelines, policies and directions so they can know they're on the same page as everybody else. Corporate
culture, employee guidelines and best practices should be expressed as "thou shalt's". "Thou shalt nots" may produce
inhibition and hesitancy. Be sure they know when they are equipped to be independent: they need to hear it from you.
- Acceleration: Their natural desire to work well with others helps in acceleration. To the degree that
the process is done with warmth, confidence and enthusiasm, they will respond with their best effort.
Analytical, Creative, Persistence, Reflective, Research, Scientific
Reflective, logical, aggressive, and self-assertive, they take a positive but calculated approach to
objectives and enjoy challenging or competitive situations. Objective and discerning, they are inclined to
examine problems factually, unencumbered by the emotional climate. They set high performance standards for
themselves, and prefer to work alone. What does this tell us about the most effective onboarding process?
Profile Group 4
- Accommodation: They will ask for (even demand) what they want and need, having thought it out carefully,
according to their expertise.
Let them express their analysis of what is needed. If their needs cannot be readily met, encourage them to
innovate and invent solutions. Simply asking for patience will not be effective.
- Assimilation: They will be slow to engage socially. Assimilation will be built around information, a
committment to detail, accuracy and rational arguments. They prefer to get a thorough intellectual grasp
of the situation before doing hands-on. Have detailed information available for ongoing projects and point out
areas where they will have authority and control. Demonstrate detailed accountability.
- Acceleration: While they have high performance standards for themselves and others, they will be
suspicious of acceleration activities that seem arbitrary, reckless or rushed. Make sure they have access to
the rationale behind the ramp-up process.
Administrative, Closure, Discipline, Staff, Specialist, Systematic
Thorough, accurate and methodical, these individuals prefer areas of
specialization or professional discipline. They are at their best in a highly organized context where
the application of system, methodology, or technical competence is highly valued. They are more at home dealing
with things of a tangible nature than new, or complex, social situations. They are good team players, calculating
their risks and seeking your objectives in an undemonstrative, consistent manner. What does this tell us about the
most effective onboarding process?
What is Your Profile Group?
- Accommodation: They will be very accepting of what is offered in terms of equipment, logistics and support. Be
sure to verify that they are well equipped. They will be slow to complain or "make a fuss", so be thorough and
- Assimilation: They prefer to work in the context of a relationship, responding positively to affiliation and
consensus. Being a valued team member is an important motivator. They prefer very detailed job descriptions,
guidelines and policy so that they can be sure to meet expectations. Areas of ambiguity cause uncertainty and
discomfort. They will want to know the "Thou shalt nots."
- Acceleration: They are systematic and detail oriented. Haste and pressure don't bring out the best. So couch all
acceleration efforts in terms of making them "more valuable to the team" faster. If others need to be challenged or
redirected to accomplish acceleration, do it yourself: don't rely on the new Group 4 employee.
If you are responsible for the onboarding of a new employee, remember Dr. Tony Alessandra's Platinum Rule: Manage
others as they would be managed. If you are a Group 3 person (or 1 or 2 or 4), and are onboarding everyone in the fashion that would
serve YOU best ... you may be disconnecting valuable employees at one of the key points in
their relationship to your organization. Always move toward the management needs of other Profile
Groups to bring out their best work.
Questions or Comments? Send us an email.