When new colleagues join a team, the process of onboarding typically begins whereby the employees are welcomed and receive role-specific instruction. This process can take up to three months, and can include an appreciation for the history of the team, the culture, and how to navigate the unwritten rules to get things done.
While the benefits of a well-designed and well-defined onboarding program are widely known, the metaphor of bringing a new colleague up-to-speed and onboard is inferior to thinking about the real goals of this process. Ideally, the goal is to successfully launch a new colleague, giving them the tools and understandings to gain traction and add value to the team.
Launching anyone new to the team requires a checklist of critically important activities. First among them are the relationships essential for their progression. In most situations, the introductions of five or six key relationships right from the outset can make a huge difference in the new team member's ability to gain traction. These are people who are essential for this team member’s long-term success, and often involve both internal and external partners.
The best leaders craft this relationship matrix and schedule the introductions to occur quickly. You might be surprised at how many of these relationships usually don’t get a foothold until months after entry, as the traditional list of team information and updates take precedence.
The best launch designs include a series of conversations on specific topics with key colleagues who can imprint knowledge and answer any questions the newbie might have. A set of distinct experiences, such as attending or observing customer interactions or site visits, is also considered a mainstay of the best designs.
Launching new team members as opposed to onboarding them reorients just about everything leaders do to make these colleagues successful quickly. As Walt Disney liked to say, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Launching new talent is doing.