Podcast EP 132 | Onboarded – What is onboarding and why does it matter? (1 of 4)

What is onboarding, and why does it matter?

In this first of four episodes, we’re discussing Brad’s new book Onboarded, how to bring new hires to the point where they are effective faster. We discuss what onboarding is, and what it isn’t. We cover how 83% of organisations aren’t realising the benefits of an effective onboarding process and why onboarding really matters to your team, and your results.




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.


Brad Giles  00:13

Hi there, welcome to the growth whispers where everything that we talk about is building enduring great companies. My name is Brad Giles. And as always, every week for 132 weeks now, I’m joined by my co host, Kevin Lawrence, Kevin. Hello, it’s lovely to see you today. How are you?


Kevin Lawrence  00:30

You too, Brad. 132 weeks? You know, there’s not a lot of things that people aside from maybe brushing their teeth and a few things that many people or even myself can do 132 times in a row. We put an episode out for 132 weeks consistently. Miss none, I don’t we haven’t missed 111 state how are we not one? Pretty incredible for two very busy people on opposite sides of the world. And during COVID. Actually, it might have been easier during COVID. Because you might have had a little bit more free time because we didn’t have to travel.


Brad Giles  01:03

Yeah, that’s That’s true. That’s true. But no, it is it is and you know, patting ourselves on the back. I guess. Yes. Yeah, it’s good. It’s good to be and through that I wrote a book.


Kevin Lawrence  01:17

Hmm. On top of that, on top of that,


Brad Giles  01:20

yeah. And that book is coming out in a couple of weeks on the first of November. So we thought that, yeah, we just have a bit of a chat about that today, and in coming weeks, just break apart some of the some of the topics topics in there, and see where the conversation takes us.


Kevin Lawrence  01:42

Yeah, and congrats on the book, Brad. I mean, it’s a topic that I’m also very passionate about because I see onboarding messed up. Oh, there’s the whole Old backdoor way so fast onboarded. You know, there’s, there’s, there’s, you know, onboarding is a topic that I see I’ve seen go wrong so many times, and for lots of different reasons, a lot of what you cover off in your book. But it’s, it’s one of these things who put all this energy into getting awesome new executives, leaders, managers, frontline employees. Recruiting them, but then helping them and not setting up to win. It’s interesting. My son has joined a new restaurant that’s open and close to where we live. And it’s been interesting listening to him. He’s been involved in onboarding training, but he was on boarded. And then incredible amounts of training and learning and practicing two weeks even before the restaurant opens. Yeah, like it’s, it’s incredible how they are, I’m interested to see what they do, the restaurant opens this week, but it’d be interesting to see how they do but the amount of preparation has been impressive. I am surprised at the level of they have put into it. So again, so franchise, they’re not it’s a single guy who owns one is a local entrepreneur owns a bunch of restaurants. Yeah, okay, um, that these are decent scale restaurants. And he’s got several locations. It’s not their first rodeo, or the second rodeo, as we’ve seen in Canada. But from what I can see the first 30 days, like they’ve nailed, and now it’s still chaotic, is they’re still in prep mode of the restaurant and getting things sorted out, because it’s a brand new restaurant. But for the restaurant, opening type onboarding, they’re doing great. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. But it’s, I’ve said to my son, you know, this is a great experience to get this much training and it’s his first restaurant job. And it’s great to get that much training and practice and all of this stuff for everyone. It’s, um, so it’s great to see when it looks to be good. Often, it’s not. So why don’t Brad, you know, we had a conversation before, why don’t you kind of give the distinction between, you know, what you define as onboarding and what some other people might call, you know, onboarding or induction or orientation if you want to give the distinction. So, it’s really clear in the mind, the listeners, the, you know, what it is and the point you’re making here?


Brad Giles  04:17

Sure thing. So onboarding is the process of taking someone from outside your organization, and making them a productive, independent and confident member of your team who understands the culture, the technical and process expectations and your expectations as their manager.


Kevin Lawrence  04:37

So that’s sort of put that simply it’s like, someone learns how to do the job within the way the company works. The manager works expectations and is able to do excellent, amazing work in if from the perspective of themselves and their manager and the people they work with. Yeah, they understood they get to awesomeness. Onboarding to awesomeness.


Brad Giles  04:59

The key word there is understand, they understand the manager’s expectations, like what is my energy manager expect of me they understand the culture and all of the bits around that. And the technical and process the way we do things here. Understand, geez, I was talking to my brother not not only a week or two ago, and he was telling me he’s on, he’s joined a very large organization, multinational. And he said, they had no idea about teaching him about his job. Like it’s, it’s, it’s prevalent in small and big companies, some companies do a great job of it, you would think that only big companies, part of me would do a good job of it. But the data just doesn’t say that, like you said with that restaurant. Some companies do a good job, irrespective of size. And some companies do a terrible job.


Kevin Lawrence  05:57

Like in our firm, we’re now 14 People in our little boutique firm. And we’re bringing two people on in the last quarter. But we have a 13 week onboarding plan. Like it’s very thorough, and we’re always looking for ways to make it better. But you know, it’s it’s one of our work. A few of our guys have had amazing experiences in large, successful companies that figure this out. And they brought a basic tool for a 13 week plan. But that works really well.


Brad Giles  06:28

So he’s, he’s a quick and dirty Sorry to cut you off there. Can you think of someone who recently did that 13 week onboarding plan, you don’t need to say their name?


Kevin Lawrence  06:39

Yes. Okay.


Brad Giles  06:40

So first of all, how on a scale of one to 10? How clearly do they does that person understand their managers expectations? One really low, 10 Really high like 10. Now, culture, how clearly tells the person and then technical, I’m sorry, give technical and process? Because you did the 13 weeks. Now, if you did a seven, like a seven day or one week or two week onboarding process, which 83% of companies do, you might not be able to say 10?


Kevin Lawrence  07:15

Well no, because it’s your first seven days, you forget a bunch of stuff. Like, you know, at first, I thought it might be overkill, but I see the results. But I’ve seen I’ve seen the opposite. I remember, you know, the classic thing that I see is when we bring new executives in, yeah. And they come on board. And I have the same conversations with the executive and the CEO almost all the time. And say to the executive, Hey, your job, for the first 13 weeks, first quarter, as we think in quarters, is to learn the team, learn the culture, learn the business, and the nuances and learn how to work with your CEO. You’re not here to shoot the lights out, you’re not here to blow us away with how amazing you’re, you’re not here to make big decisions. Because you won’t frickin know until you you get a month into a job and you have the best intentions and potentially bad results. And then I say to the CEO, hey, it’s great that you have this awesome new executive. And it’s amazing to have this amazing experience from XYZ company that we love, and believe in. But they need to be on a short rope. You need to meet with him ideally, every day, you need to have a full meeting with him every week and need to talk about was and making sure that all key decisions that they run by you first. Now, where they want to take an employee for lunch doesn’t matter. But there’s this period of them getting an addition to the the onboarding plan, which you talk a lot about. But it’s I see all the time, that the CEO is so excited to have Mr. or Miss amazing executive, and they just let them run on their own into a wall. That’s and they often are awesome people who ended up failing, damaging relationships, making bad choices, pissing people off, because they don’t know yet. And in some cases, they don’t even have relational permission yet. And I mean, it’s not rocket science. It’s just it’s a discipline, like a lot of good things. And again, I know your book will get into this way better than I would explain it. But it’s I’m just hugely passionate about it. Because, you know, recently bringing on a new president in a company. And I know if I didn’t say something the President would run too fast and the CEO would let him.


Brad Giles  09:30

And the great risk is attrition. The great risk is the President’s let’s be fair, right. The president a few weeks ago, was talking with other companies he could start with, right. So that was a few weeks ago, and now we’re trying to let them run. If they’re an A player, then they’re going to work out. But that that is quite important, right? Onboarding is not hiring. Onboarding is not induction. It’s not orientation. And it’s not training. Onboarding is a separate process. And in the book, I really wanted to say, you’ve got to have a great hiring process eg like top grading, okay, you’ve got to have that. But then that process finishes and another completely different process begins.


Kevin Lawrence  10:16

An equally important and thorough process begins. And you can’t just accept the drop, expect this, drop them in. One more that happened. I was talking with them a company in another country. And they’re telling me about this person who was making horrible decisions, running off and doing things that made no sense. And I said, like, How was that possible? And I’m talking to the executive of the person reports to him like, like, they like, like, tell me like, What was your onboarding plan? Like, what did you do? It made no sense the person can make such horrible decisions, because they that we know they’re not unintelligent? Yeah. Well, you know, when it turns out, the executive that is leading this person doesn’t even have a weekly meeting. It’s nice that they hired the person and told them the job and didn’t did a little bit of training by having them shadow the other person. And just as letting I wanted to scream, and I probably said some bad words. Like, that’s not only not fair to the person, it’s not fair to the business. And it’s not, it’s not a smart way to manage any investment. The person has zero chance of success. He has a negative chance.


Brad Giles  11:34

Here’s the thing, that it’s also incredibly expensive. I’ve got like two chapters devoted in a book of seven chapters, I’ve got two chapters devoted to the cost, because it’s scary.


Kevin Lawrence  11:47

We’re not talking about the money they waste with decisions. It’s the damage to the business and the damage to the oil and the cost. It’s crazy. But you know, to you and I, Brad, this stuff is basic, and to the people listening, like, Look, if you have this has been an oversight, we’re not here to judge it, we’re here to help you. It’s, it’s basic, but unfortunately to build a thriving business, it’s like flying a jet plane. There’s a lot of switches, especially in the old analog ones, there’s a lot of switches that do a lot of things. Unfortunately, a lot of people in the jobs, they don’t even know that some of these switches exist. It’s like they’re hidden under the dashboard, and they can’t see them. And for some people, this is one of them. They don’t even contemplate it. Maybe, hopefully until now until they read your book.


Brad Giles  12:36

Yeah, there are structural reasons why we’ve got in this position, right? Nobody owns onboarding or onboarding. Someone owns sales. Someone owns the operation.


Kevin Lawrence  12:48

They should though. In some companies, like in some companies, HR owns the process. The manager owns the work.


Brad Giles  12:55

I agree with you. But But no, but there’s no full time component to it is what I’m saying. Like, if what I mean by that, if I’m a sales manager every day I come to work. And the first thing I think is how can I hit my targets? Whereas Yeah, onboarding, it’s like, if you’ve got a team of 10, maybe once or twice a year, you’re onboarding somebody new if you’ve got an average attrition rate. So it’s, it’s a part time?


Kevin Lawrence  13:22

I would agree that that somebody does own IT, HR generally should own that the process is followed. It’s just the discipline is not very strong. And a lot of these companies,


Brad Giles  13:32

I’m saying the same thing. Yeah, I’m saying the same thing. Like, yes, the manager absolutely has to own it. There’s no doubt about it. But it’s a part time process. Okay. And it’s not like there are any with hiring. We’ve got the person we’ve hired the new hire, tick. Awesome.


Kevin Lawrence  13:55

But I think the same thing falls down hiring, a lot of people don’t have enough. HR owns the hiring process. And a lot of managers aren’t disciplined around it.


Brad Giles  14:03

People, there’s a measurable metric there. We can say we’ve hired somebody.


Kevin Lawrence  14:06

A lot of companies don’t even measure it. Like, I know what you’re saying, I’m agreeing with you Brad, hiring often runs loose, and onboarding often runs loose. And, and onboarding probably worse than not. Hiring is often very, very loose. But the point of it is, it’s, it’s missed. And it lets slip and then it’s it’s not good for the person. It’s not good for the company. Nobody wins.


Brad Giles  14:31

Yeah, so So I guess in my 20-30 years of being an entrepreneur and a leadership team, coach, there’s one thing that I’ve learned and I do hope that you agree with this Kev,


Kevin Lawrence  14:45

We’ll find out.


Brad Giles  14:49

Rule number one, rule number one of building a great business. The first and most important rule is that you’ve got to have the right people on the bus. You’ve got to get the right people on the bus in the right seat, doing the right things the right way. Right. That’s if you can’t get the right people.


Kevin Lawrence  15:05

That fit, doing a great job. So yes,


Brad Giles  15:10

hiring gets the right people on the bus. And in the right seat. Yes, but But an effective onboarding process gets them doing the right things the right way. And it is, and there’s a difference there. Okay, so hiring gets the right people on the bus and onboarding gets the right people doing the right things the right way. Yep. So if we, if we reverse engineer there, if we’ve got a great hiring process, okay, and we’re getting let’s say, we’re getting A maybe B players, we’re getting good people come on board, and that’s fine. They’re on the bus, and they’re in the right seat, but they don’t know how to do the right things the right way, which creates problems.


Kevin Lawrence  15:52

And that’s why organizations put a lot of energy into onboarding, and making it better and better and better, so that they can one get these people up to speed faster. Or get more of them up to speed than they would have if they had a loose system. And it’s kind of like the strongest survive.


Brad Giles  16:11

So I want you to imagine that you’re as a middle aged person competing in a weekly basketball competition, okay, you and let’s say eight of your friends every week, you come together, and they’re all about the same caliber, as you. They’re pretty good, okay? They’re good for their age, good for their, you know, the amateur, they get around. And then, and then what happens is one of the people has to go, and another person comes in. He’s a, he’s a chap called Michael Jordan. Same age. But he’s, he’s incredibly competent, experienced. He’s one of the greatest of all time joins your little team. This team is now a completely different team. Okay. Now we’ve got people have got to understand each other, but they’re completely different. And that’s where the phrase every time a new person joins the team, the team fundamentally reinvents itself. Is the new person who’s just joined your team? High IQ, low IQ, high EQ, low EQ, are they loud? Are they quiet? Have they gotten 25 years experience doing what you’re doing? Or are they fresh out of college? Have they? Have they used a competitor’s product that they don’t know how to unlearn or it’s going to be really tough to unlearn? So you think about a team every single time someone joins, the team is fundamentally reinvented. And not only is the onboarding about getting them to learn the process, but it’s also about learning the culture, and the ways that we work and interact,


Kevin Lawrence  17:56

Right. And often we talk about getting the team to mesh, which is one thing. But then there’s them actually learning to do their job in a spectacular way, which is a whole other thing. When you have a breakfast, Michael Jordan is gonna have his own place. And as well in ways he likes to practice, but your team has their own way and he’s got to learn your team’s way. Or maybe his ideas that change the whole thing. But that’s got to be a conscious choice. Otherwise, it’s just not going to work.


Brad Giles  18:24

Imagine the first second third week where Michael Jordan’s running rings around all of you and your your people. And the frustration would be enormous. So that’s the job to be done.


Kevin Lawrence  18:39

It is. So the essence of what we’re saying is taking your onboarding really quickly, making sure that it’s if you have a strong hiring process, there’s also a strong onboarding process. And elements from the hiring process, like the scorecard that defines the role can be should be a key part of that process. But it’s a notable commitment of time and energy to get that person fully up to speed so that as you say, you very well have the right person. Now you got to make sure they’re doing the right things the right way, so they can be successful. And the sooner that happens, the better. But it doesn’t happen on its own. And if you just leave them to figure it out on their own. I mean, it’s kind of like going to Vegas and making a bet on a roulette wheel on black when you’re gambling. And it’s just not smart.


Brad Giles  19:27

Well, they’re going to try to do things the way that they think is right. But it might not be the right way for all the whole range of legitimate reasons.


Kevin Lawrence  19:37

Or it could be better, but then it’s going to screw up something else somewhere else in your business because they don’t understand the whole process or why you do it that way. Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome. I’m really excited to see your book come out, which is going to be out in a couple of weeks, Brad, because, you know, as you know, we’re very passionate about nailing the hiring process. And that’s why we do a lot of work around that and we’ve done a lot of work with clients around onboarding. And as I said, in our firm, we do a thorough job. Not perfect, but always trying to get better. And I’m big, big believer in the benefit of it, because I’ve seen way too many times how it goes out easily it goes wrong, mostly because there’s not a good enough plan.


Brad Giles  20:16

I guess I looked at it. And I thought, What’s the big thing that’s missing? What’s the big gap in business today? And I think that there are structural reasons for it. So I did a survey of 1100 CEOs and hiring managers around the world to get some compelling data that told the story in a way that I couldn’t. And then yeah, really built out one or in fact, two really strong tools that people can practically use within the book.


Kevin Lawrence  20:46

Awesome. Good, good stuff. Well, hey, thanks for listening. This has been the growth whispers podcast, and today we’re talking about onboarded Brad’s new book that’s coming out November 1, November 1 of 2022. For those of you that might be listening to the back catalogue, I’m Kevin Lawrence in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Brad Giles, my co host here is in Perth, Australia. To subscribe if you haven’t already, just hit that subscribe button. Keep it coming. Feel free to share it with some friends. If you found some good value for video version go to youtube.com and Brad and I both have very thorough newsletter sharing the best ideas we can and you can get a hold of Brad at evolutionpartners.com.au and get that newsletter and you can reach me and my team at lawrenceandco.com You can also get the newsletter there and learn about past books that I’ve done and you can also learn about Brad’s previous book as well on his website. Hope you have an awesome week. And please do the best you can to onboard your people and make them more successful sooner, which is good for them and you. Have a good one.