Onboarding is the process of helping new employees understand a firm, including how it functions, the people working within it, and their interactions. Onboarding also involves assisting new hires in gaining the confidence of the people around them and in assisting to establish their authority within the organization. More specifically, onboarding involves the following areas:
- Learning the business. A new hire needs to understand the business model of the organization – what it does, the nature of its customers and suppliers, and the other players in the industry. Also, a new employee should understand the company’s products and services, as well as how they are delivered to customers.
- Learning the department. A new hire needs to fully understand the requirements of his or her job. This involves more than examining a job description. In addition, the person should understand where there are problems within the function, what initiatives are currently underway, and the direction in which management wants to see this function go.
- Learning the people. Each new hire needs to interact with a different set of people within (and outside of) the organization. This requires the person to recognize each individual, where they fit in the corporate hierarchy, what they do, and what sort of interaction is needed with each one.
- Learning the politics. The dynamics of how employees work together varies from one organization to the next. The new hire needs to understand who to approach to get work done.
- Learning the culture. Each organization has its own culture, which is a shared set of assumptions and values. If a new person does not understand the culture, she may soon find that she is not fitting in with her fellow employees.