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Bill Ferguson
M Posted 9 years ago
t 5 min read

The success of your company and its initiatives is only as good as its people. And, as an employer that strives to be innovative in all areas of the business, the onboarding process is the first step in demonstrating leadership.

Here at BrightEdge, we put a lot of planning into new hires. As with any growing Silicon Valley startup, the competition is high and the pace is fast. That’s why our onboarding process ensures new staff is set up for success in a repeatable and scalable way.

The faster a new hire feels welcomed and prepared for the job, the faster this person will be able to contribute to the company’s success. It makes good sense for companies; onboarding using the “sink-or-swim” method where staff struggle to figure out what’s expected will eventually negatively impact return.

So what does it take to get your new hires on board and making an impact as soon as possible? Check out the “dos and don’ts” of a killer onboarding process:

  • Don’t skimp on time invested for onboarding process
  • Don’t make onboarding just an HR function
  • Do ensure new hires “get” the strategic vision of the company
  • Do make sure new hires know the culture
  • Don’t forget to teach about products and services
  • Do familiarize the new hire with the website
  • Do cross-train for teams that impact one another

1. Don’t skimp on time invested for onboarding process. Here at BrightEdge, we have a 4- to 6-week onboarding process whereby new hires get to know the company inside and out, covering every important aspect of the business so they can absorb years’ worth of history, knowledge and culture. By the time our new hires are through, they really have a clear understanding of the BrightEdge vision.

2. Don’t make onboarding just an HR function​. In a startup environment, everyone rolls up his or her sleeves to get the job done. This doesn’t stop during the onboarding process. At BrightEdge, we have an approach to onboarding that ensures new hires meet with key staff across departments and teams. Each team is responsible for a facet of the new hire’s onboarding process relative to their team’s mission.

3. Do ensure new hires “get” the strategic vision of the company. This includes understanding the company history – where it came from and how it evolved – to an understanding of where it is today, and where it will be in the future. We try to pair the new hire up with a founder or key executive who has been with the company for a significant amount of time for this portion, as those people are usually the closest to the company story and vision.

Taking this a step further, and depending on the team the new hire is on, getting this person up to speed with the big picture of the department or team goals is crucial, too.

For example, a new hire in marketing will need to know what the company’s marketing goals and plans are from the top down so he or she will understand how their role will directly impact the goal.

4. Do make sure new hires know the culture. One of the most challenging parts of entering into a new environment is understanding the subtleties of the culture, how people work, and who to turn to if a person needs something related to their project.

A new hire may have an idea of a functional area of a business, like HR for example, but how those functions are carried out is different at every company. At BrightEdge, for example, we're an SEO company, and even when seasoned marketers join our team, they appreciate knowing the BrightEdge approach to SEO.

For this piece, we like to pair the new hire up with the vice president of operations – someone who knows the inner workings of the day-to-day – to give the new hire the rundown on how to get things done, and what to watch for.

5. Don’t forget to teach about products and services. A new hire can’t expect to be a contributing member at full capacity unless he or she fully understands the products or services a company provides. And it’s not about just learning as they go; new hires should get a thoughtful, thorough introduction into the business’s bread and butter, and what goes into making it successful.

6. Do familiarize the new hire with the website. One of the key areas that companies may forget to onboard a new hire in is the website. Today, the website at a company is the hub and culmination of many teams, departments and goals. And, because everyone surely has a stake in the website – the face of the brand online – a new hire will want to know the goals of the site, how their team interacts with it, and how to make important updates as needed.

7. Do cross-train for teams that impact one another. Some teams just naturally have a symbiotic relationship within a company – take sales and marketing, for example. You can bet that staff from each one of those teams will inform and support one another’s strategy. Here at BrightEdge, we like to “buddy up” new hires with crucial contacts at teams that would impact that new hire’s role for cross-training and collaboration opportunities.

The Onboarding Process Pays Dividends

Although taking the time to ramp up an employee does mean a short-term hit on productivity for those involved in the on-boarding process, it’s a win-win for all parties.

The sooner new hires are ramped up, the sooner they’ll be productive. And, this benefits new employees who want to prove that they can be a productive member of the team.

And startups: this is especially important. With so much to accomplish, and the race against time to build products and acquire customers, thoughtful onboarding ensures new hires aren’t just figuring stuff out on their own.

For teams, a formal onboarding process means scalability. As a company gets larger and product offerings expand, new hires can jump in feet first and start making an impact.