How your training program can turn skeptics into your number one evangelists

Let’s call it what it is, employee on-boarding is just another fancy schmancy name for new hire orientation.

Though the term has been re-coined and spun to sound like it’s something new, it’s the same old process through which new employees are recruited, processed and trained. A typical on boarding program should include inviting an applicant for interview, and end with an offer letter and confirmation of start date. However, once new employees start their first week, this process changes drastically by organization.

The biggest question to answer when planning an on-boarding program: Who is responsible for the new people? Is it HR? Their manager? Their Trainer?

The answer is simple: All of the above.

HR, Managers and Trainers must each be held equally as accountable for the development of new employees. However, while it is the responsibility of HR and Managers to determine the correct processes and systems important to the success of each employee, it is the Trainer’s responsibility to ensure they are developed and taught to each employee.

So even though, new hire orientation is not a new concept, the definition of on-boarding should be expanded to:

The acts through which employees gain knowledge, and the necessary skills and behaviors to develop into successful and productive employees

With this in mind, a successful on-boarding process should be at least 6- 12 months long.

Before an official on-boarding program is created, employers (HR, Managers, Trainers, and Organization Leaders) should take the time to answer these questions:

Studies show that more than 80% of the highest performing organizations have an on-boarding process that starts before the first day on the job. Are you apart of that statistic? If not, here are some ways to welcome your new hires with style and class-

  • Create a new hire portal and share it with your new employee once the ink has dried on the offer letter. Examples of what each employee should find in the portal:
  • Other things to include in portal:
    • Letter/Video from their new manager welcoming them to the team
    • Content designed to engage prepare them for the first day
    • Pictures, videos of the team and team activities
    • Glossary of most frequent terms used by employees

A tip on creating content:

Video is always better.

Now it’s time for the first day. Going into this as an employer, there are a few things you should know and commit to memory as an unchangeable truth.

Your new hire is not 100% sure they want to stay at your company long term. Your new employee is not even 50% sure at this time. It is your duty to make sure that by the end of the on-boarding process, your new employee has been converted. What you do on the first day of the on-boarding process goes a long way to ensure your new employee’s loyalty.

The purpose of Day 1 is twofold. HR needs to align new employees with the objectives of their new position, trainers need both set and communicate expectations and managers need to reinforce both objectives and expectations. This is the only day you will have to impress and leave a lasting impression on your new employee, by Day 2, it’s already too late.

 

If your employee goes home unsure about the people or the organization, that feeling may become subdued, but it does not go away.

Social interaction is also crucial on Day 1. New employees need to be able to mingle and build rapport with their team, as well as, the leaders of the organization. This sends the message he/she is important and that company leaders care about each employee. Allowing opportunities for social interaction among other employees, also gives them a chance to start orienting themselves to the culture of the organization.

Humans want to belong, we seek opportunities to become a part of a greater whole, it is a survival mechanism, and one of the reasons why groves of people move major metropolitan areas each year. New employees need the opportunity to socially negotiate their status within an organization’s culture and giving them the chance to interact socially, does just that.

A few things need to happen at the one month mark:

  1. HR needs to step in as well as managers to ensure that the employee is comfortable, happy and well-adjusted. HR must determine if all their needs are met and discuss any feedback the new employee may have thus far.
  2. Managers must also take the time to meet with each new employee at the end of the first month to realign he/she to company objectives and the expectations established on Day 1.

At the 3 – 6 month mark, HR should make an effort to check back in with the new employee. At this point, the employee should be fully acclimated to the organization and this meeting helps to get any additional necessary paperwork completed. Benefits should be reviewed at this meeting, as well as, a temperature gauge taken to determine if the employee has any issues with fitting in to the organization culture. The purpose here is to show the employee that he/she is not just a warm seat, and that his/her happiness is important to the organization.

The success of your new employee can be causally related to how he/she feels about the job and whether or not he/she feels they are just a number or an integral part of the organization.

During this time frame, the trainer should be phased out and the manager should be working more closely with the new employee to further coaching and development.

At the one year mark, barring any gross and unacceptable behaviors of the new employee, you should be able to determine whether or not the employee will be a success in the position. It’s important to note that most organizations rarely extend the on-boarding process this long, but depending on the position this should be more necessary than not.

How can you tell? Well ask yourself, how multifaceted are the duties of the position? Is it as simple as moving the robot, or does the employee need to understand several moving parts as well as perform them in order to be successful? The more complex the position is, the longer the on-boarding process should be.

At the end of the first year, the on-boarding process should transition to an employee retention and satisfaction program and as you will see in my next post, even that should have its own coaching and development program. Instead of start to finish, to turn skeptic employees to evangelists, your on-boarding process must be seamless from “start to continuous development.”

So how SHOULD you end the conversation after the first year? Simple.

Start with…

“So, let’s talk about compensation…”aaeaaqaaaaaaaadkaaaajdkwodq3n2fjlta4ymutngi5my05ztk1lwfizdkzzmflntiwza

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers- Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (Book Review)

A business model is defined in this book as the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value. This, ‘business model’ has to be a simple and relevant document that details how your business plan to create value.
Canvas

The business canvas is a design tool (sometimes even a drawing) that represents the shared language used to describe, assess and even change an existing business model. According to this book, there are 9 building blocks that essentially build the business model canvas. These 9 blocks are;

1.) Customer Segments – who is your target market? – do you understand the different needs of the segments that exist within your market and the different channels available to reach out to them, or, is there a specific segment you are targeting?

2.) Value Proposition- what value are you providing to your customers? Are you offering your customers, design value, customization value, ‘getting the job done’ value, brand value, performance value, price value (lower pricing points), risk reduction value, or accessibility?

3.) Channels- what channels do you need to use to reach out to your customers?- how will you market your product/service/platform?

4.) Customer Relationships- the method of communication between you and your customer will depend on the stage your business is in. You need to ask yourself whether you are in the customer acquisition stage, the customer retention stage or the up-sell stage.

5.) Revenue Streams- how will you make money?- Are you selling a physical product, are you offering a service for a subscription, are you offering something for free (freemium) and offering additional features /premium features for a fee (or are you solely relying on advertising revenues- if you have a web-based business this will depend largely on the amount of traffic you have, the engagement rate of your user base and how much time they spend on your site), brokerage fees, leasing fees, or licensing fees?

6.) Key Resources- these are important things that you will need for your business to work.

7.) Key Activities- these are the important things that must be one to make your business to work.

8.) Key partnerships- there are the alliances you need to make for your business to work (suppliers, competitors, joint ventures or strategic alliances).

9.) Cost Structure- these are the important costs you will incur in order to make your business work.

Patterns

This book lists 5 examples of traditional and, ‘new economy’ business model canvas patterns followed by businesses;

  • Unbundling Model- According to this model, there are 3 types of businesses; customer relations businesses (businesses focused on the acquisition of customers and building customer relations- for example, Ebay), product innovative businesses (businesses focused on developing new and attractive products- for example, Apple) and Infrastructure businesses (businesses focused on building and managing platforms for high volume repetitive tasks- for example, General Motor). These 3 can exist within one organization, but it is advisable that such companies separate them into 3 entities.
  • Long Tail- Under this model, the business offers a large number of niche products that do not sell much on their own, but collectively amount to a large amount of sales. Examples of this model include Lulu.com and Youtube.
  • Multi-sided Platform- Under this model, the business has 2 distinct, but interdependent groups of customers. The business grows in value through what is known as the, ‘network effect’- the more users the platform gains, the more valuable it becomes (examples include; Amazon, Google, Wii, Playstation and Xbox).
  • Freemium- Under the freemium model, the business offers its services free of charge. Nonpaying customers are financed either by another part of the business model (upselling certain services), by advertising revenues, or by another, paying customer segment (examples include Flickr, Twitter and Facebook).
  • Open Business Model- Under this model, the business collaborates with outside partners by opening up its platform (examples include Tor and RedHat).

Design

Under this section, the book delves into the techniques available to design a business canvas. According to this book, there are six techniques, these are;

  • Customer Insights- businesses need to understand that customer insight goes beyond asking customers what they want. Apple had a deep understanding of its customer’s behavior and understood that people where not interested in digital media players per se, Apple believed people wanted a seamless way to search, find, download and listen to music (this was against the prevailing trend- illegal downloading), this is how Apple came up with the Ipod.
  • Ideation- It is difficult for established businesses to innovate because the systems designed to make an established business more effective (financial projections, job descriptions and anything promoting predictability) work against the innovative process (that requires systematic chaos). According to the ideation process there must be a brainstorming of business ideas (with people from all sectors of the business), the best ideas must then be isolated, elaborated and developed further.
  • Visual Thinking- according to this process pictures deliver messages more effectively than words and pictures often need to be used to communicate ideas and concept (post it notes, power-point presentations and anything that is visually stimulating).
  • Prototyping- According to this process you have to avoid falling in love with any one idea you have, the idea must be prototyped, tested and there has to be an exploration of different directions in which the business model could go.
  • Storytelling- You must be able to use real life stories that people can relate to, describe your business model and your value proposition. This storytelling will help you communicate your business to possible investors, your customers and your employees. You have to ask yourself what your business narrative is.
  • Scenario- Scenario planning helps businesses better understand that the business model might have to evolve under certain, future conditions. Imagining future scenarios helps develop business models in more innovative ways by understanding future conditions that may exist within your market you will better understand how to draft your business model in a manner that allows it to be more adaptive.

business-model-generation

Strategy

Business model strategy involves understanding the environment the business operates within (the key trends- regulatory, technological, societal and socio-economic, the industry forces, the market forces and the macro-economic forces- global market conditions and economic infrastructure), the design drivers underlying the business model and the constraints the business is likely to face.

You have to understand that today’s market conditions may very well be outdated tomorrow and you must be able to improve on your business model to suit changing conditions (ask yourself what measures you have in place to ensure your business model remains competitive). Amazon for example, retains its competitive edge by keeping its profit margins very low ensuring that no competitor could price its products lower. Jeff Bezos also understood that these low margins (at one point Amazon posted a 4.2% net margin) where Amazon’s financial weakness, to address this issue Jeff Bezos broadened Amazon’s business model by offering other web services.

One strategy that deserves a little extra attention mentioned in this book is the Blue Ocean Strategy. According to this strategy businesses must focus on creating new, uncontested market spaces. An example of a business that pursued the, ‘blue ocean strategy’ would be Wii, instead of focusing on developing a console with state of the art performance (which was what Playstation and Xbox brought to the market), Nintendo choose to develop a more, ‘social’ game console designed for the casual gamer.

Process

There are 5 stages in the business process stage; mobilization, understanding, design, implementation and managing. The mobilization step involves preparing the business model for success, this includes setting up all the elements that are needed to ensure the business model is successful and describing the motivation and value proposition underlying a business. The understanding phase is a stage where research and analysis is carried out. This involves immersing yourself in industry relevant knowledge. The designing phase is where the business model is generated and tested (by questioning the validity of the business models and the underlying axioms). The Implementation phase is where the business prototypes are tested in real life situations and the Management phase is where the business model is adapted and modified to suit current and future, foreseeable market conditions.