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Cindy Solomon

Savage Remix of Virtual Onboarding: Grammy Edition


Big news! A monstrous conglomerate just bought the rights to all my content for a bazillion dollars. 

Just kidding!! Who am I? Bob Dylan? Taylor Swift? Bwahahahahaaa. 

Today we’re talking virtual onboarding. Which is almost as dangerous as skateboarding. Anyway, listen, I know you have things to do—because players gonna play. But can we take a hot minute to talk about overhauling antiquated onboarding processes?

Seriously. Many of us have been apologizing to new hires since Billie Eilish was in vitro, and Drake was just a duck. And, sure, some of the people we’ve brought on via these processes have been real performers. However …

Just because we’ve hired a few stars does not mean we get an award for that rickety on-ramp we call orientation. The awkward video mélange. The dizzying (online) office tour. The Docusign spree. The breezy, “If you have questions, call me!” 

The times they are a-changin’. Everything that can go digital is being revamped and revved up. Which is exciting! Virtual onboarding is our chance to make bringing on new hires what it should be: a meaty, meaningful introduction to a shiny new star.

As Drake says, it’s hard to do these things alone. So, here are four tricks to creating a new era of onboarding magic, with just the right amount of the ever-so-lovely Harry Styles’ watermelon sugar added in for good measure. And it goes a little something like this …

4 Ways to Make Virtual Onboarding Your Jam

You’ve gotten through the awkward interview process. You found your person. Or people. Now you need to get them up to speed so they can start saving the day from day one. Here’s how to do it right.

Make it Personal

Not gooey personal, professional personal. Let’s just say you should treat a new hire like a really classy friend, like Amal Clooney. Always onboard one-on-one. And call them briefly the day before your virtual onboarding session with a genuine welcome and an unofficial insider tip. 

Take this time to draw connections between your new hire and others so they feel like a part of the group before they’ve even started. E.g., “Ariana used to work at your old company too.” Or, “Dua is a Zoom aficionado, you two should talk.”

Maybe even have another group member call as well. Someone they haven’t met yet. A first day of work buddy they can turn to if things get weird. Striking a friendly tone is incredibly important in the virtual world. Everyone needs a caring work confidant. Yes, even Amal.

Make it Intentional

Way back when a Grammy was a grandparent, some clerk decided that onboarding should be synonymous with mind-numbing paperwork. Boring. Painful. Now we know that was just the tip of the iceberg to what is needed to make someone feel ready to take on a new role.  We also know paperwork is soul-crushing.

Today, we onboard with intention. We focus on people, not the process. We treat that paperwork like it was custom-written for this one new hire. We discuss short- and long-term goals. We explain how everyone’s role crescendos to the realization of our clean, clear vision. 

Most importantly, we introduce our group members. We give the new hire a chance to see how their role harmonizes with their new colleagues’ roles. Yes, it takes longer. But it’s worth it. : )

Make it Chunky

If you interpreted the above as a stream of “back-to-back” meetings or a “first 90 days” to-do list from hell, stop in the name of love. Remember your first day? Dizzying and overwhelming, right? When you’re bringing on a new hire virtually, you need to pick a cadence that ensures their success. And break your content into chunks that fit that cadence.   

If you’re hiring a new surgeon, you don’t just hand them a tray of scalpels and wish their patients luck. You describe, demonstrate, let them try it, then discuss how it went. Tell, Show, Do, Review. Feel the rhythm there? Once they’re comfortable and humming along nicely, then you set them free. Okay, maybe a surgeon isn’t the best analogy. But you get my point.

Make it Last

Remember, in a virtual world, there’s no “office vibe” to tell you how people are doing. Lurking in meetings is super uncomfortable for everyone. And micro-managing in a virtual world is … um, well …. that’s a whole other subject. 

My point is, onboarding isn’t over when the album drops. It’s not enough to simply wait to hear if your new hire is doing okay. You have to gently and privately check in. You have to notice awkward incidents and follow up personally to make sure they’re bouncing back. 

Let them see you and know that you see them. Find a cadence of communication that works for both of you. Got too many newbies coming in at once? Maybe those “first day of work buddies” could do this follow up for you and keep you apprised. Talk about team building!

Convinced this won’t work in your company? Do me a favor and try running through your new onboarding process with that solo act who keeps the company afloat while everyone else goofs off on the #soborednow Slack channel. You might be surprised … and of course, let me know if I can help!

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