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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why is Onboarding an Important New Term for your Organization?


Although we are at the tail-end of a recession that has had global impacts, competing for talent will become increasingly difficult over the next ten years. It will take more time to attract and hire, and likely longer if you want to get the right individual to join your organization. In 2008, the B.C. Human Resources Management Association survey found nearly sixty percent of B.C. businesses identified recruitment as one of their top three challenges. According to the Conference Board of Canada, approximately thirty percent of Canada’s senior executives will be eligible to retire in the next three years. The same numbers are true for senior Aboriginal executives. Remember, these are the baby boomers born between 1946 – 1964. Like the rest of Canada, we did have a baby boom in the 60’s and unlike Canada; we have had a baby boom for the last 15 years. There is a shortage of the cusp generation or generation X and the upcoming talent at the executive and senior management levels in the country and in our communities and organizations.

This means that if you want to attract and retain either Aboriginal candidates or candidates with experience in Aboriginal communities, your organization will be competing with everyone else with a smaller pool of candidates to draw from. In addition to this challenge, there are new studies (Right Management Study) showing that one-third of all new managers will decide in the first 3 – 6 months that the organization is not the best fit for them, they don’t like it, are not treated-well, or are simply not happy and will plan their exit and leave in the first 18 months.

Costs associated with a bad hiring decision of a manager are estimated to cost the organization up to 10X the manager’s salary. Director costs include the recruitment, training time, relocation and severance. The average time a search firm such as ours takes to conduct a search is approximately 225 hours, but more difficult search projects take longer. I believe if it takes us 225 hours to complete the average search it is likely to take an organization more time due to lack of specialized knowledge and dedicated resources. Indirect costs include productivity to the organization, poor morale for the staff, and reputation. All those reporting
into the failed manager or executive are also affected in the transition. If the organization has sufficient turnover then if will become more difficult to attract new candidates and hire a qualified successor.

The right fit for your organization might be very different from the First Nation or organization just next door, although the need for the specific skills will appear to be the same on the surface. Necessary skills, knowledge, abilities and education are usually obvious for the roles you are hiring for. Behaviour, personality and an ability to fit in with the organizational culture are difficult to assess yet vital to the success of your recruitment strategy. You can’t motivate or teach someone to have the same values as the organization. You have to identify and hire the person with the skills, knowledge, abilities and values that match your organization, and then do your best to retain them. Recruiting the best talent is just the beginning. “The failure rate for new leaders who enter an organization from the outside is high. Executives from outside the company are not as familiar with the organizational structure and the existence of informal networks of information and communication” (First 90 Days). One of the key new areas for addressing this challenge and helping retention is onboarding.

Onboarding is a new term which has expanded on traditional orientation and is more comprehensive and tailored to each individual person hired. It makes sense that if it takes a great deal of time and money to identify, attract and hire new managers and executives then organizations can ill afford to have their newly hired leaders end-up frustrated and decide to leave within a year or so. Onboarding is the process that organizations put into place to integrate new employees and mitigate the risk of the hire being successful. When done successfully it also increases the time the person can start making meaningful contributions to the organization, accelerating their performance and enabling them to perform to their full potential.

There are three major objectives to onboarding:

1) Learning - understanding the organization and identifying the key stakeholders and their issues and agendas
2) Building effective relationships – communicating, networking, teambuilding both internally and externally
3) Meeting performance expectations – setting clear expectations and monitoring performance

Onboarding should start immediately as soon as the individual accepts the position. The new hire should receive a telephone call from their direct supervisor welcoming them to the organization. A new hire package should be couriered including: annual reports; newsletters; stakeholder information; information on the organization’s history; employee handbook; and any additional information that could assist in immersing the new manager in the organizational culture by sharing the organization’s vision, values, programs, services, strategies and objectives.

The organization should have someone at a senior level dedicated to assisting the newly hired manager with knowledge of all the key stakeholders. Assisting your new manager in establishing strong and effective relationships with staff and external stakeholders is important. It is imperative that the direct supervisor provide the new manager with clear expectations of the role and timely corrective feedback. Feedback should be prompt and consistent. A thorough explanation on who the key formal decision makers are and how decisions are made is key for the new manger. The best way for an organization to get the results they want is to tell the new manager exactly what they expect. Lastly, develop clear timelines of deliverables and the goals the new manager is expected to meet on the short term with regular on-going feedback.

Like many other activities, what you do in the beginning or up front can save you time and effort in the long run. Getting the “right” people in your organization and retaining them will determine your success.


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