Onboarding and Strategy Execution

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Category :

By James Orr

What is the value that a typical employee delivers to their organization? Upon hiring, the employee is not very productive and adds very little value to the organization. You could even argue that a new employee actually contributes negative value in the beginning since, during the training and onboarding process, they are taking the time of more experienced employees. For the sake of this conversation, let's keep it simple. As the employee better understands his/her role, they begin to add more value to the organization until at some point the value added begins to level off (as noted in the graph below). Without external intervention, additional training, job rotations, or new challenges, an employee will begin to deliver a fairly consistent level of value without further increase. We will leave the tail of this graph for another conversation. Instead, this discussion will focus on the beginning or onboarding of new employees.



It is commonly stated that new employees are not as productive and do not deliver as much value as experienced employees. There are entire companies built around reducing the time to productivity of new employees. So why do organizations find this so difficult? What is the secret sauce? Besides getting the employee oriented to the organization and surroundings, reducing questions such as, “Where is the bathroom?” and “Where do we keep extra paper?, the key is reducing the time to results by accelerating strategy execution.

In essence, it’s about shortening the period that employees are not creating value for the organization, increasing the slope of the value creation curve. How well an employee executes is dependent on how well the employee understands the company’s strategy and believes that the company’s strategy is the right one, and whether or not the employee has gained the skills necessary to be successful in his/her assigned role.

If we think about the evaluation process, resume reviews and interview questions are designed to determine the candidate’s skills, experiences and qualifications. This process is designed to determine whether or not the candidate has the necessary capabilities for the role. The process is less effective at evaluating whether or not a candidate understands and believes the company’s strategy. The remaining two components of the equation are dependent, in part, on the effectiveness and success of the onboarding process.

To achieve the necessary alignment and commitment to the company’s strategy, the onboarding process needs to quickly assimilate the new hires in the company. The onboarding process should include an immersive, experiential component that introduces the new hire to the organizational structure, strategy and interrelationships between business units. It should not be a one time event, but rather a well thought-out journey spread over time. The process also needs to depict how the individual actions of the employee drive results for the company, answering the question, “Why am I doing my job?”

Ultimately, successful onboarding increases the slope of the value creation curve as employees create more and more value for the organization. In the end, effective onboarding programs accelerate a new employee’s time to results by aligning the new hire to the strategy, instilling belief in the strategy, and building the capability necessary to complete their assignment.

Does your organization have a successful onboarding program? Click here to learn how BTS has helped leading companies develop high performing, engaged employees.

About the Author: James Orr is a Senior Consultant at BTS.

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