What is the Best Process for Onboarding New Team Members?
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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There must be faster ways to bring our newer team members up to speed. We have a mentor take them through a training process, but we need to get them in front of clients more quickly to increase bandwidth for the team.
What are some best practices for onboarding new team members in the advisory practices you see? I’m sure we are missing something, just not sure what it is.
The fact that you have a mentoring program and assign someone to integrate a new team member is a strong positive indicator of your success in onboarding. Some questions for you to consider to see if there is anything missing from your current approach that you might want to consider adding:
- Do you set clear short- and long-term goals for the new person? Many times in a new hire there will be a role with performance expectations but not broken down into smaller steps – first two weeks, 30 days, 60 days etc. If you are not doing this, here is where you could illustrate at what point you expect the new team member to meet with clients and to be ready to engage with knowledge. It gives the person some insight into what you consider the path will be and what they need to do to get there.
- Have you engaged others within the organization in addition to the mentor? In some cases, a firm will connect the new team member only to the mentor at the risk of not having them engage with others. If the mentor isn’t able to provide the necessary insights, or doesn’t have the experience to round out what you need the new person to learn quickly. For example, if the goal is to get the new people in front of clients more quickly, is the mentor capable of helping the new team member navigate the right steps to do this? Strategically engaging others can help the process.
- Are you clear about what you need from these new team members? I can read in your note that you have urgency because of bandwidth, and I respect this, but have you thought through what this looks like and what it means? Sometimes because staffs run lean and they need all of the hands on deck they can get, they rush someone into a role or responsibility they are not ready for or should not take on.
- Do team members know why they need to be included and what their specific role will be in meetings, or is this left to their own ideas? If you haven’t created a clear outcome and how the person should be integrated and get involved, this could actually cause you more problems than it answers. You might have a clear view in your mind but you need to make sure you have shared it and that others understand it too.
Have an onboarding process with milestones and goals and be clear what is expected and what you want to see out of someone new. The clearer and more well defined you can be will make it easier for your new team member to step up more quickly and be productive and effective.
With the change in working conditions, going from full-time virtual/at home to returning to the office, we are confronted with the issue where some employees think they are more effective at home (some are, some are not) but if we grant rights to some to work from home, everyone will want to be able to do so and quite frankly not everyone is able to be productive and effective.
Is it best just to have a blanket agreement that no one works from home? It seems a case-by-case situation is fraught with difficult conversations and probably a great deal of hurt feelings.
This is cropping up more and more with both small and large clients. No surprise with a return to “normal” where there is no real definition of normal and people have learned more over the last 12 months plus and have different ideas about the ways to work and be most effective. Our larger clients are struggling with this quite a bit because some of the competition is offering flexibility while some are taking a hard line – “in the office only” – approach and are recognizing competitively this could ultimately become a negotiation point for new employees.
I know it isn’t the popular answer. But I am a fan of telling the truth. If you have an employee wherein you question whether they have been as focused and effective as they could be, or used to be, when working in the office, it might be best to have this direct conversation with them. Trying to skirt issues or “be nice” is never a good remedy. It just delays the inevitable where you will have to have some sort of performance discussion with the person.
The other side of this issue is that people who have been incredibly productive and have proven they are able to work remotely and do the job as assigned, should be given an option to work remotely if this is their choice. With the return to the workforce, women in particular are paying a price. Childcare in many places has not caught up and so women might be forced to choose between the job and caring for their children. To assume a position where there is no flexibility or consideration whatsoever seems shortsighted to me.
Some people work well on their own and are very motivated and self-directed. Others need the structure of the office and having a specific time to be there and a specific environment to work within. The laptop on the bedroom floor isn’t for everyone. I encourage staying open-minded about this and taking it on a case-by-case basis. It means having some hard conversations with team members but I believe people do deserve honesty and while they may not like to hear the bad news, they’d prefer hearing it directly rather than finding out later there was a problem no one ever addressed.
I know this is an issue many firms are dealing with so if you are with a firm who has dealt with this effectively, please write in and let us know what you are doing.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.