Onboarding and Climate Reveal the True Values of Your Organization
We have all heard the term "assimilation" thrown around in business circles for years. Part of the reason for that word's popularity and ease of use is because the heart of your organization is revealed by how you assimilate new employees into it. Believe it or not, many organizations still do not have a formal process for each stage of an employee's growth from entry-level to supervisor level, to manager level to executive level. In some organizations, it starts out with new employees at the entry-level but then gets thin to non-existent on up the ladder. Whatever your process is or is not, you are revealing your true value in your organization.
Many leaders understand and support the organization having a set of core values. What many misses is that while yes, it is important to have a very few sets of values as part of your strategy in your company, what you really value is played out daily in the culture through everyone's behaviors. What they say are values and what they do and do not do as values could be and often are, completely different. The most obvious place this happens is in a new employee's first 90 days at the new organization. The new employee comes in with their previous experiences good and bad in their career. Most new employees suspend those previous experiences for approximately the first 90 days because they are trying to experience and estimate the new normal for the new environment, they are going to participate in. This gets played out in the onboarding process as well as what they see and experience every day in the workplace. This might be scary to you also, but if they desire to become a high performer, they will pay attention to what the high performers are doing and saying as well as the high performers' boss and what they are doing and saying to the high performers, thinking "if I do what they do and say, I'll be treated equally with them". If these observable situations are healthy and in alignment with the core values, that is a great thing. If these observable situations are not healthy or in alignment with the core values, you are simply breeding more of what you already have in issues and problems.
It's one thing to go through the onboarding process, which has probably been carefully designed to reinforce to the new employee how great the organization is and also reinforce the decision they made to join this team was the best decision they could have made. Then, we either further compound those thoughts and feelings with the actual everyday climate of the reality of the conditions and norms in the company.
Most organizations haven't really thought this through thoroughly. The scary part is if your actual organizational climate does not follow or value what you tout that your culture is supposed to, it's going to cost you. Our research has indicated it can cost you up to 3x the amount of time, energy, and money to find a replacement when disappointment sets in for the new person. Or, if they gladly just go ahead and fit in, the people who are in your organization who are frustrated because they want to do it all "the right way" will decrease in productivity or they will leave because of resentment because the company is not really standing behind what they are "selling as the culture". So, to sum up, my point, yes, the onboarding process is very important, what is equally or more important is that the onboarding process is in alignment with the true heart of the organization. One of the two pieces most often has to be modified, either the onboarding process needs to be modified to fit the actual climate or the actual climate needs to be adjusted into alignment with what you originally believed add desired the culture should be instead of what it is. Either way....the true heart of what you really value is going to become obvious.