How to onboard new starters successfully in a stage of hypergrowth

As a team leader in a company experiencing hyper-growth, you’ll be expected to hire almost continuously. That in itself is difficult, but it’s made worse because you’ll then be juggling onboarding new employees while taking care of existing employees, who themselves may still be fairly new. How can you maintain your work-life balance whilst making sure everyone in your team feels important and cared for? 

First up, you need to streamline the onboarding process and save your direct involvement for high-value engagements (where there’s no substitute for face-to-face time with you). Activities that are cultural, ceremonial, managerial or team-level strategic should be your focus as a leader. 

Cultural and ceremonial onboarding

Get new starters engaged with the existing team as quickly as possible. Introduce them to everyone and ideally organise a welcome coffee or lunch. This time out of your day allows you to catch up with everyone and builds team spirit but, more importantly, gives instant access to the culture and a whole raft of additional people they can go to if they need help to understand how to do things.  

Also, after meetings, put aside just five minutes to give them a quick run-down of what was ‘really going on’ in the meeting. It’s a quick and easy way to give them access to the intangibles (i.e. culture, who really holds the power, what’s important around here) and for them to get clarity on how things are.

Establishing yourself as their manager 

Start your catch-ups on the usual schedule you intend to follow – whether that’s once a day, week or fortnight – and then try to stick to this, but with very brief additional catch-ups where they’re needed. Don’t be afraid to parcel out your time in five or ten-minute units (as opposed to half an hour) – it means you can get through lots of new joiners in an hour and you can then afford to interact with them more regularly. 

Strategic onboarding

As a manager, you need to make it clear how their role relates to the wider strategy. In recent research I’ve conducted for new joiners across two organisations, both have said that the vision and purpose of their organisation was somewhat missing from their induction and that it was hard to draw a line between the corporate strategy and the work that they were doing. It helps them feel that their work is important, clarifies their objectives, and helps them to work out where they should be focusing their attention, reducing the number of times they’ll have to ask. 

Standardise and digitise everything else

 Then, anything else – processes, systems, rules and regulations, flexi-time policies, you name it – if it’s standard, it needs routinising. If it’s just for your team, bite the bullet and get it done. Although it’ll be a time drain in the short term (but you could just record a zoom induction session and share it with everyone who starts), it’ll be of benefit in the longer term. If it’s a firm-wide need, encourage HR to take this off your hands. A key resource you should definitely ask them to create is a video from the CEO, explaining the vision, mission, purpose and values and which can be updated each year if necessary.  

Three resources on onboarding:

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