Hiring · Company Culture

What do you need formal employee onboarding and training?


August 13th, 2015

Working with a company that is almost at 20 ppl and there is no formal onboarding process. Want to hear from other fast growing companies when they implemented formal employee onboarding and any processes and best practices (detail welcome).

Thomas Hoolihan Owner and Principal at Law Office of Thomas J. Hoolihan

August 13th, 2015

Dear Anonymous: Having been General Counsel, COO and the Head of HR at various times, at five different companies, I have a view unique and probably different from a lot of corporate lawyers. So, with that as background, or perhaps as a warning, let me provide you with some thoughts on your question. First, you said that your company has 20 people. Therefore, you are still at the size where a bad hire can have an overly large impact on your company. this is something that larger companies need not worry about. So, I assume that you already have certain very tough criteria for hiring each new employee. Hopefully, your hiring process is more than "Crap, we need a programmer, does anyone know anybody?" Unfortunately, this is not far from the reality at many smaller companies. So, assuming that you are spending time and effort on hiring good people who are diverse yet share a common spirit and approach to work (hard working, passionate about what they do, willing to be team players and not drama queens), then the primary focus of an "on boarding" process is to initiate each new employee into the culture that you are trying to build for your company and to ensure that each employee understands the company vision and is "on board" with the culture and vision. In addition to all of the other things that a CEO has to do (grow the business, deal with the Board and shareholders, raise money, etc.) his or her primary purpose is to articulate a vision for the Company and to ensure that each employee accepts and actively adopts that vision and the company's culture or rejects it and goes someplace else quickly without doing damage to the enterprise. A proper "on boarding" ensures that the new employee understands the vision and the culture you are trying to build. Otherwise, he or she will ask someone else (not you or your management team) who may be equally in the dark or he/she will simply make something up. Then, you find your 20 person company has 15 different interpretations of the company culture and vision. In that case, not only is everybody not rowing in the same direction, they don't have the same oars and some don't even know where the boat is. (Yes, I know i tortured that analogy.) Training, on the other hand, is something entirely different. As a twenty person company, you do not have the time, money or bandwidth to spend on "training" new employees. Each employee you hire should have the technical expertise needed to do the job for which he or she was hired. The only exception is someone just out of school who is hired for his or her passion and ability to be a sponge and learn things on the fly. Remember, until you company is quite large, you can outsource most or all of your training. What you simply can not outsource is articulating your vision and sharing the culture that you want to build that will allow your company to succeed. I hope you find this email useful. If you would like to continue the discussion, feel free to drop me an email. Best. Tom Law Office of Thomas J. Hoolihan 360-870-7661 http://www.HoolihanLegal.com

Juan Zarco Managing Director, Silicon Valley Ventures Growth Partners llp

August 13th, 2015

Put together an employee manual, hiring documents that include standard employee skills, etc.  Failure to do that will bring about chaos in a fast growing company.  You can aways edit, add or subtract the content as you go along, but, at least you will have a HR infrastructure. Note that once you hit a hiring floor in whatever State you are in, the company has to comply with additional regulations. Some of these materials come in "soft" form.

Pankaj PCC Helping leaders to be happier

August 13th, 2015

It is not surprising that there is no formal on-boarding process for the company with just 20 people. While it is good to learn from others, you must keep in mind that this process will be very different in its core for a small company (in terms of number of people) compared to a large company.
For a small company (in terms of number of people) like yours, it is more like a family and everyone usually has personal relations with everybody else. It is more effective to keep that way. There may be any need to have a formal elaborate process of on-boarding except explaining some HR policies and procedures, as long as company culture is of openness and collaboration. At this size, on-boarding is best done on the job by the whole team. The new person should feel welcomed by everyone and should feel part of the family.

May I ask, why do you ask this question? Do you think your current informal on-boarding is not working?

Steph Thommen Co Creator at Teal4Startup

August 14th, 2015

I think there's a difference between something formal and something useful. To me formal means classroom based type thing and is not necessarily needed. Before anyone start you need to have a list of: - All the tools the new hire will need to use, and their log ins ready. The best is to create their email first and then send them log in details to that email, along with a short, personalised welcome email. - All the departments this person is going to be dealing with, so they can arrange time to meet and introduce each other.