Anyone who lives along the coast (ocean, digital, or otherwise) knows that the first rule if you find yourself in a rip current, is don’t struggle. Only with insight, pre-knowledge, or experience does someone know how to perform in these situations. Fighting a rip current is a losing battle, but swimming with or parallel to the current is the best way to exit it safely. This runs counter to our intuition, biases, and assumptions about our abilities, which would push us headlong into the waves.
In today’s hyper-driven economy, onboarding is the same way. Digital transformations accelerate performance and productivity in new directions, directions that require knowledge of the technologies, and the organizational drivers behind the changes. Today, employees cannot advance against the digital currents with traditional learning pathways. Relying on onboarding that starts on the first day and only continues with learning programs is the equivalent of yelling instructions from the beach, which is hardly an effective way to communicate with someone who is already struggling. In these instances, either the new hire will intuitively know how to manage the digital currents facing them or they will struggle. Ultimately some will fail while others will have a lasting negative experience that can shape their perspective about the organization going forward.
The key to effective onboarding is to utilize the time before diving in on the first day in order to introduce the employee to the fundamentals of the company culture, provide coaching and confidence, and express interest in the wellness of the employee. This is the experience and necessary information that needs to be conveyed before a new hire dives in! Creating a pre-hire experience expresses the intuitive knowledge existing employees know: the keys to the culture and performance with which a new hire will struggle until they master.
Another critical element to success is creating pre-hire experiences for inclusive onboarding. Diversity in hiring is getting easier with a plethora of new recruiting tools and cultural recognition of the value that diversity brings to an organization. Yet diversity and inclusion inherently mean that backgrounds and experiences differ from the existing structure/norms of an organization. Creating specific pre-boarding programs tailored to foster the necessary adoption and performance potential inclusive hires possess can be enhanced with early access to digital tools and onboard in a digitally collaborative environment.
Going further, organizations unable to address significant rip currents in their culture may find that recruiting social media platforms such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn have notices to stay away from a company with churning waters. As the economy becomes more competitive, top performers and recruits may head to calmer waters and other opportunities. Organizations such as Google (https://rework.withgoogle.com) are turning their developmental coaching outward to showcase how they can assist employees, managers, and leaders to perform better, creating markers of the internal environment.
Be safe this summer, get yourself a bigger onboarding boat. [How to Survive a Rip Current: First, Don’t Fight It – The New York Times](https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/us/riptide-rip-current-drowning-safety.html)
Looking for inspiration on how far you can extend your performance. Check out bow riding and waves in your organization this summer. [BBC – Earth – The incredible science of surfing and waves](http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170622-the-incredible-science-of-surfing-and-waves)
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