Podcast EP 135 | What tools do you need to use for an effective onboarding process?

First, you must document what success looks like in the role after the onboarding. Second, you must build a plan to ensure the new hire understands how to succeed in the role.

The role scorecard should include the job purpose, responsibilities, measurable metrics and expectations of the new hire. The onboarding sprint plan should be a detailed weekly list of agenda items over perhaps 13 weeks which incorporates all the aspects of the role scorecard. 

This week, in part 4 of 4, we talk about the two tools from Brad’s new book Onboarded, the role scorecard and the onboarding sprint plan.




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, and welcome to the growth whispers where everything we talk about is building enduring great companies. My name is Brad Giles. And as always, today, I’m joined by Kevin Lawrence. Kevin in Vancouver, Canada, how I things today?

Kevin Lawrence  00:25

Things are great, they usually are like, life is good. Putting these podcasts together as always interesting because it really gets us to think about a topic in depth share a common experience and perspective. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to today’s episode.

Brad Giles  00:41

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, we it was born of us, going to the United States together, and having interesting conversations. And learning and challenging and yeah, having different experiences. So that’s where we kind of, that’s where we come from. So today, we’re talking about episode four of four, the role scorecard an onboarding sprint plan, but before we do that, I always like to start with a word or phrase of the day, anything on your mind, Kev?

Kevin Lawrence  01:13

Yeah, what is the main thing in my mind? I think it’s, the word is joy. And the context is contagious. And so it’s just how when people are happy, and having a great time, that it’s incredibly contagious. And and when people are not, it’s also incredibly contagious. And I’m, you know, I feel very fortunate that most of the people I spend time with are enjoying their lives, and it radiates out of them. Comes out in conversations. And of course, there’s rough patches and everything else. But that contagious joy spreads. And even sometimes, when you talk about struggles, sometimes there’s some joy for the struggle. And you know, as I’ve just think back over the last three, four months, all the amazing people have had chances to connect with. And by nature, 90% of the time, I come away feeling better, because I’m picking up on their energy and their joy. And how I realize that’s a bit of a gift that’s not necessarily common for all human beings. And in my very appreciative of that, and just, you know, how you’re how basically how your happiness and how the, how much you’re enjoying your life and your work spreads and how that can be a wonderful thing. And I’m really, yeah, so that’s it, contagious joy.

Brad Giles  02:39

I love it when one is the opposite. So mine is a relentless focus on the boring basics, something that we talk about all the time. You know, in the last week, twice, I’ve engaged people to do something. One was a doctor for a doctor’s appointment, and the other was person to detail my car, and they didn’t turn up. Ah, so it’s like, a relentless focus on the boring basics, like, It’s the simple things, just do the simple things might be a good start. Anyway, that’s all.

Kevin Lawrence  03:15

That’s good. Well, you know, funny story. I had a call the other morning, and I missed a meeting. And long story short, I can make a whole bunch of excuses and reasons. But I missed the call. And it was with four executives and CEO and four executives and one of the companies that work with Yeah. And I spoke to one of the execs he goes, Kevin never misses a call. And I said, Well, you can’t say that anymore. What we talked about it like, I hold myself to insanely high expectation. On time 100% of the time. Whether it’s in person in Vancouver around the world, I mean, you know, was recently was in the Middle East and you know, heading to California tomorrow and it’s like on time all the time without fail like a Swiss watch. You know, it’s kinda like are there there’s a saying for a Timex, you know, takes a licking and keeps on ticking was a was a phrase. I remember a slogan I remember from as being a kid.

Brad Giles  04:18

All right, so now we’ve got to stitch these two together, joy, joy, and what was it relentless focus on the boring basics. I don’t know how you stitch those together. Yeah,

Kevin Lawrence  04:29

yeah. There’s the joy of the basics, the joy of the basics, and then when you mess up, cut yourself some slack.

Brad Giles  04:36

It’s the first time in 100 episodes I’ve tried to stitch them together. Never again. Yeah. So when all of that let’s talk about this, this is episode four and four of this new book that I’ve put out called Onboarded about the onboarding process, why it matters, why it could potentially be one of the biggest issues in business today. And opportunities really, and you know, the brutal reality is that most people have a bad onboarding story. And most companies do a terrible job of onboarding. So it’s a great opportunity that we could all learn from. And it’s, it’s simple. That’s the thing. It’s simple. And if we focus on effort in the right area, like we can have some really tangible, amazing results.

Kevin Lawrence  05:23

It’s kind of like having air in your tires in your car. If you didn’t know it was important. At some point, you would quickly find out how important it is. It’s a basic obvious thing. And most people just don’t even think about it that much.

Brad Giles  05:36

Yeah. So we started off, we started off by saying, what is onboarding and why does it matter? That was episode one of four, we then went to the problem when we believe that new hires are a good fit, right? Good, fit, bad fit. We’re trying to change that language to be successful fit an unsuccessful fit. Then we spoke about last time last week, episode three, what is onboarding debt? It’s the liability that you carry. And why does that matter? And so this week is about what do we do about like, how do we resolve this issue? Right? And what can you do, obviously, there are two tools that we’re talking about here. The first is the roll scorecard. And the second is the onboarding sprint plan. And this is how we build an effective process. But this is quite prescriptive. And I’m going to frame it at the beginning by saying, this is an example of best practice, the job of the listener is to interpret that best practice. And then to figure out how to make this practice work best in their organization or your organization.

Kevin Lawrence  06:44

Yeah, and at the end of the day, and talk about those, those two tools, one is a tool that you would be having clearly defined when you’re hiring the person, all the expectations of the role and what they need to succeed. And taking account, you know, that extra section that I saw you added there Brad, which was great, and about clarifying the expectations of you know, what does it What does winning look like from the perspective of the culture, the manager, and then there was a third one, what was the third one bread, technical and process, technical and process, right, so just really clarifying what and Brad’s got a great example in the book, which was made it really simple and clear to understand. So even further defining what winning looks like, and then building the plan to get them winning, basically, it’s just the plan to get them up to speed and winning. You know, it’s a basic, it’s a basic of having people successful. Interestingly, one of my clients down in the US, they actually measure mother, a large sales organization, they measure the time that it takes to get people winning, and they have a target within three months. Sometimes it takes four so but they have a process, they do all the right things. And they have a very strong KPI on it, which is the gross profit that the person generates on a weekly basis. Yeah, so they know. And they have a great discipline, not perfect, no one’s perfect. But but they also have an output metric of how successful it’s working. And we have the percentage of people that are hitting that, that that those expectations within 90 days, and we know who is and who isn’t. And what are we doing about the ones that aren’t? So it gives them a lot of data to go up and improve? What you would call? What is the tool you call the sprint plan? Yep, they have they have their version, but then they have measurement to tell us and tell them how good it is. And they’re constantly refining it. Because, you know, the more successful the salespeople are the people when and so does the company.

Brad Giles  08:39

Yeah, that that’s interesting. One of the tools, one of the quick and dirty things that I explained in the book that you can do, is to ask people when they’ve completed their onboarding, you know, what do you what didn’t you learn? Or what do you wish that you learned through the process? So it’s this constant in continual improvement process that we can build in there with a really simple question or two?

Kevin Lawrence  09:06

Yeah, and I think I explained that the previous episode, one of my clients in the Middle East, they they have been asking for years. Know, how effective was your onboarding zero to 10? What would have made it more effective? And what about it was effective? And interestingly, one of the things they found and they did a lot of work on is that when people come to a new country, like many of the recruits do, they wouldn’t be moving there and moving to Dubai, they would then, you know, it was like finding the schools and finding a lot of these basic things that were really hugely impactful. And so they realized that, you know, at some point in the process, that this connecting them with the right schools for their kids was critical and you know, you would call pre boarding something that would be done in advance to get them up to speed. But, you know, after many, many years of dialing in that onboarding process, they can 10 you to refine it. Because in their case, they figured out this is darn important, and they didn’t want to let slip. Right. So the point,we’re talking about this part of your book, the thing that stuck with me is, we have this tool called the sprint plan to make sure that as a company, we do our job. That we are clear on all the things that they need to learn and understand and be connected to to be successful. And we don’t leave it to chance. And we talked about previously, and then there won’t be onboarding debt and, you know, a lower chance of people succeeding, but it’s a very thorough checklist of things that they need to understand before they can kind of proceed to the next level. And I think you talk about as unlocking like the next level in a video game. You know, what has to happen for them to get to the to the next level, and it’s a day by day, week by week plan to that links back to their success. And you know, it’s pretty straightforward. And, you know, it reminds me when I started in the radio business, like 30 years ago, I remember my onboarding was really good. Like, I remember, in the first, they might have been week or two weeks, I don’t remember, I went and actually, probably a week, we’re going a bit, I went and spent a day in each of the different departments of the radio station. Now, this was the awesome rock station in Vancouver at the time called C Fox, where these DJs, Larry and Willie, and even one of the days I just sat in with Larry and William and it was a riot, but I got to see, but I set with the accounting department, the traffic department, the, you know, the news department and all these different departments understanding all of the inner workings of the radio station, man, it helped. And in addition, then I had my sales manager who was in sales, that was working with me on the sales training step by step by step. And you know, it was supposed to be a three month onboarding. I know it took longer before I started to hit my targets, you know, he was four or five. But he kept working with me step by step, making sure I was learning all the things, man, and then not just learning them, but mastering them to be successful. It was, it was, it was a case study of a spectacularly well done version of it. And I keep that on my mind when I see other people start in organizations that don’t have that kind of support, when they’re getting going, I feel bad for them.

Brad Giles  12:25

So you spoke about the sprint plan there. So we send this to tools, I want you to use this analogy of a house being painted. Right. So the sprint plan is like the painting. That’s the fun bit, right. That’s where we go around with all the colors, and it looks a lot different. But it’s only as good as the preparation that we do beforehand. The preparation for painting is where the work is. And then we’re just translating that into that. So whilst it’s sprint plan is important and fun, and it gets us to see the tangible results. Before that. The scorecard really matters, it really matters. Because the scorecard tells us how to succeed in the role. It tells us how a new hire will be successful across those three elements, the culture, the technical process expectations and the managers expectations.

Kevin Lawrence  13:21

It’s almost like what you’re onboarding them to. Yeah, right. It’s like, it’s like, in many ways, if you’re thinking about the painting, there’s certain specs that the paint needs to meet, make. And there’s certain prep and certain durability and all of this stuff. And so that you are doing the preparation and the painting to a plan or to a standard. And not only is that helpful when you’re hiring to make sure that the people have the capability to do those things and fulfill those expectations. But when you’re onboarding, it’s, it’s so simple, but it points at the things that they need to learn to be successful at the define success in their roll.

Brad Giles  13:56

Yeah, but here’s the thing. It’s got to be relevant to the time period of the onboarding. I had one CEO, lovely, lovely CEO, but she said nine months of work to be done in three months. Okay, so it’s got to be relevant. You look at it in this in the role scorecard and you say, how long would it take that person to meet 40 customers as an example? Well, it’s not be, it’s not going to be 40 minutes, it’s going to be an hour each plus travel, like and then you can begin to think about how long do all of the things that I’m setting, how long will they take?

Kevin Lawrence  14:32

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. I had an executive and I always ask the executives that join us from other companies about awesome things about their companies that they came from, etc. One of them talked about, they were in the roofing, business, selling roofing, and their onboarding was six months. It was insanely thorough. He goes, it’s you said, you wouldn’t have believed it. Unless I had experienced it. He was offered training here and training there and meeting people here and meeting people was six months they spent doing it. And it was incredibly thorough, but because there was so much to learn and a lot of complexity, and I think it’s a great point that it can’t all necessarily be done in three months. That’s a, that’s a pretty good target for a lot of people. But there’s more advanced things that need to be learned in roles. And truly, for some rules, it might be over a period of a year, you know, it could break down to based on what they need to learn to thrive. Awesome, great, great, great example, I’m thinking about a client that I work with. And it’s almost embarrassing what they did. And they’re like, they’re good people. They’re really good people. But they hired a new executive, who had similar kind of experience, but never done the exact job they needed. And they got very excited about the person filling this role, because this part of the business was a major, major headache for them. They hired them, they got excited. And they said, Great, here you go, go work with your team, and basically let them to run from day one. I am not exaggerating. And so I had a conversation. They were complaining about this executive. And I’m like, Okay, well, what was and they talked about something, a purchase that they had made on the company’s behalf. That was well intentioned. But there was no need to make the purchase, because the company already had something that would have worked. Yeah, it was wasted money. I said, Well, how would they know that? Well, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, as I’m listening to this, I go in this is not a person problem. This is a company problem. As we dug in, I said, Okay, well tell me about the onboarding plan. And then they started. Ah, okay. Well, what do you discuss in your weekly meetings? And they’re like, weekly meeting, what do you mean? So, no onboarding at all, fully giving the person like 100%, autonomy, day one. No exaggeration, and no weekly meeting to check in with them just literally threw them to the wolves. And I mean, you know, the worst thing they could do, I mean, if all they did was make a decision and blew 10 grand, who cares? Considering they were thrown to the wolves with no support, and no, nothing that is minor, it’s almost inconsequential, compared to what they could have done. And unfortunately, it’s the they’re the, the the person who they’re reporting to is the person who was messing it up. And it’s just, it’s not it wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t anything, but it was negligent.

Brad Giles  17:37

But that’s the problem, right? And, you know, I did this research study, as a part of this book, 1100 CEOs and hiring managers around the world. 83% of people have an onboarding process of 14 days or less, and 49% have a seven day or less onboarding. So that’s what you’ve just described, there is what the average company does. Now, this subset was across all sizes. You might think, Oh, they were just the small companies. Now, it was across all size companies in a fairly even distribution as well. So yeah, it is the average, everyone does a terrible job of onboarding. Here’s one thing I picked up from what you said earlier, as well. When we’re looking at the onboarding, yes, it’s about training. Okay. But the other thing, an onboarding process must tell us if we’ve got an unsuccessful fit or a successful fit, it must force the decision. Do I want to commit further salary Reese salary costs to this individual? Or do I exit them? Like it’s, we’re imagine we’re driving down a road and the road forks two ways you need to make a decision. So when we’re building the role scorecard, after 90 days, what does success look like in the role around those three elements? Remember, and

Kevin Lawrence  18:58

if you’re not in this case, not meeting with them every week, and talking to them and evaluating how they’re doing and on the things that you get them how it’s working, and can you give them the next thing? How do you make that choice? Like in this, I was talking to this team? And it’s like, well, of course, the person not succeeding, but I said I from listening to you. I can’t tell whether it’s you or them, but I do know you’re not doing your job. Yeah. But we actually cannot assess the candidate. Because they haven’t been said it. It’s not fair. It’s like teaching a kid to ride a bike, and just throwing them on the bike and pushing them down the street with no training wheels and hoping it works. Yeah, that’s not a fair assessment of their ability to ride a bike, because you haven’t set them up to win. And again, we’ve all made these mistakes. Now you’ve shared an earlier episode. I think there’s some of the stuff that I’ve done earlier in my career. And thankfully, I’ve got a good team that’s really good at doing this onboarding. Thankfully, they make sure that it works. But it’s it’s Yeah, and like like, like You have in your book, right? Like we’ve talked about, we use a 13 week onboarding plan. And we have a detailed plan, over 13 weeks of what people need to do to get up to speed. And our team wraps their arms around new people to make sure it happens. Now, we’re not that big of a company, you know, we don’t have hundreds of employees. So it’s a little bit easier. But it’s critical to success, and especially a company like ours, where the culture is quite distinct, not saying quite strong. And there’s a there’s a consistent way that we play and work together. And if you’re not consistent with that, it doesn’t work. It was really interesting. There’s just something that I observed with a new member of our team. And I’m like, that’s a slightly off culture. And I just, I just left it watched, they came back to me and later said, you know, like, they had self corrected on that, well, that was good. I didn’t need to, but I already had a note. Because if they were going to go down that road as a normal behavior, I would have needed to adjust it. You know, and they’ve learned about our values, and they know our purpose, all of those things. But they might have, they might have needed a recalibration, but I kept an eye out for it. Because it turns out, it was fine.

Brad Giles  21:12

That’s an interesting point. Because how do you teach people culture? So what I explained in the book is, we all know core values, we know them pretty well, right? A subset of core values is behaviors, because core values are often not prescriptive, whereas behaviors, we always do this, we never do that. And so when you think about if you’ve got three to five core values, and then you’ve got three to five behaviors, for each core value, what you’ve then got is, let’s say five times 525, core values and behaviors that you can talk about across that 13 week period, and stories of every single one. So you think about any behavior. Okay, so here’s the story of how that particular behavior, a subset of a core value has been played out. And that’s how we get people to understand the value through the values through stories.

Kevin Lawrence  22:09

So what you’re really saying is, as part of onboarding, you can take something like your core values, and some companies will then break down a list of behaviors that relate to teach value, and have stories that relate to each of that as well. So that’s another way to create, it’s the mindset of a thorough onboarding versus, hey, here’s the core values, it’s actually taking them in depth into it, which is almost like a deeper training and understanding process than just, you know, read the core values on the website. And I’ve

Brad Giles  22:39

done it. And I’ve worked with teams that have done it, the energy that comes out when you do have the new hire when you do a thorough onboarding, and the pride, like you can see why attrition is so much. Also that another way, retention is so much better in companies that have good onboarding processes. It’s remarkable, because you’re setting people

Kevin Lawrence  23:00

up to win the intent of helping them to win versus it’s, you know, throwing them to the wolves and see who makes it. And that’s, it’s a different focus. And if you really, truly care about your people, you’re going to do a proper onboarding. And the root of it from my perspective is that 13 week sprint plan is critical, because that’s the document that is built in terms of how they’re going to be successful. And they own some organizations HR might need to monitor it or check it just to make sure it happens, because different managers take this with different levels of seriousness. But it’s the map to success. And it’s just making sure the map gets followed. And then then we can have a more objective measure of if indeed, in the end, that they’re suited for the job.

Brad Giles  23:47

Yeah, yeah. This one, just one quick out the story. One company, I’ve worked with a tech company, and they implemented the onboarding, process, scorecard, etc. And people were coming back saying, or at the end of the onboarding, we could be labeled an unsuccessful fit. And like that created some anxiety around them, like because they were transparent about it. And the CEO, rightly so came back and said, We didn’t just spend all this money on hiring you, and all of this effort on hiring you and going through all of that stuff, because we want you to be unsuccessful fit. What we’re saying is that we’re going to spend so much of our time to try to make you to cause you to become we want to spend more effort now so that you can be a successful fit and we could confidently validate that and that’s really the point, right? Yes. Yeah. Is that when it is a bit more effort, okay. But the the return on that effort is outrageous.

Kevin Lawrence  24:49

It is and particularly with new executives, which is what most of our focus is on, you know, and I because the conversation I also have with executives if you leave the executives to their On device, if you let nature take its course with a new executive, the CEO is gonna say great job done, spend a bit of time with them and let them run. And they’re gonna say, Great. Let me show you how good I am and how smart of a choice you made hiring me. And I’m gonna run and I’m gonna do stuff. First thing I say to every new executive that I have on opportunity was like, Hey, we expect nothing from you in three months, besides learning and building the relationships, learning the business, understanding how we work, because what you what it looks like, on the surface, often isn’t how it works. And if you go too hard, too fast, you’re not gonna have enough for understanding a relationship, and you’re just gonna piss people off. And some of that probably isn’t reversible. So you’re obviously gonna go and do work and work hard. But really, it’s learning for this first three months to understand where you’re at, and how it works in the dynamics of this business. After that point, then you can focus on autonomy, and trying to do things yourself. And you’ll probably have some excellent ideas to improve the business. And I’m happy to look at them. After three months up until then, Nope, you’re here as the student Don’t, don’t go and try and figure out how you’re going to teach the class, just make sure you master the class first.

Brad Giles  26:18

And that’s a beautiful way to frame it out. Because what’s between those lines is when you understand when you understand the role and the business, and our expectations. So good chat, roll scorecard, and the sprint plan, why it matters. Now, there are examples of the scorecard, and the sprint plan completed inside the onboarded book that you can see there. And there’s also downloadable copies on my website. So thank you for listening. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the episode today. And in fact of for the journey through these four, four episodes, releasing this book on board, it took three years to write. So there’s quite a bit of satisfaction to kind of put a bow on it and say, We’re done. Yeah, so And thank you for your time to Kevin. Hopefully, there’s been a bit of value learning and seeing my thinking around that. So with that, you can find us on YouTube, just search the growth whispers and of course, you can find Kevin and his weekly newsletter at Lawrence and koat.com and myself, Brad Giles at. I was gonna say onboarding. No, no, no, that’s the name of the book. No, it’s evolution. partners.com that are you hope you’ve enjoyed the episode and I hope you have a good week and we look forward to chatting to you again next week.