We can certainly do a better job of on-boarding people to teams, especially when teams are not co-located. Too often on-boarding plans consist of a dozen or more documents that team members are supposed to read and digest on their own.
What’s missing at so many companies I work with is the time for virtual team members to learn from and form relationships with the people who are most important to doing their job successfully. And certainly no one should have to make sense of an organization in a vacuum. As a Harvard research team led by J. Richard Hackman found, seemingly disconnected threads of information make sense only when people have an opportunity to interact with others who can help them to contextualize the information.
What’s Your Relationship Action Plan?
I recommend that clients shorten the learning curve by helping every new hire put together a Relationship Action Plan. In it, list the 10-15 internal people who are most important to doing their job well and direct your new team member to build a relationship with each one in their first two weeks. Overwhelmingly, those who create a RAP report that it was the most useful thing they ever did in their first weeks on a project team or job.
My friend Ritesh Idnani, founder and CEO of a healthcare start-up Seamless Health, puts it this way: “You need to get people off to a flying start.” Ritesh gives each new executive two weeks to talk to each person identified in the plan as “important to know,” interviewing them about all aspects of the company and the job. Then he checks up, and finds the full-bandwidth effort over the new hire’s first few weeks pays off handsomely.
“At the end of two weeks I ask the person to sit down with me and tell me what he/she learned—their observations,” says Idnani. Not only do they have a new connection into the team: you renew yours. “You end up learning a lot from someone coming from the outside with a fresh pair of eyes.”
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