In-Describable Onboarding: Instructive Onboarding

Why Your Onboarding Process Should be Less Like a Jigsaw Puzzle and More Like Furniture Assembly Instructions

Instructive Onboarding

The trend toward assemble-it-yourself furniture has provided consumers with affordable pieces that look quite nice once finished. However, the trade-off for costing less is that the consumer must put the piece together herself, which is never as simple as she hopes. In fact, some would contend that the first big test in a marriage is when the newlyweds try to assemble their first cabinet. But even still, this approach has a lot to teach us about instructive onboarding.


Jigsaw Furniture

To begin, imagine how the furniture assembly process would be different if the manufacturers of the furniture approached it the same way that the makers of jigsaw puzzles approached their trade. Instead of providing step-by-step instructions that detail which tool should be used to put which piece where and at what time, they just provided a picture of the completed cabinet and assumed the consumer could assemble it based off of that picture.

As absurd as this scenario is, it actually shows a common problem within the world of employee onboarding. Too often, companies provide training solutions that are incomplete and fail to offer the new employee all of the information that he needs to succeed in his new position. Or, to return to the furniture, they provide a brief snapshot of what a successful employee looks like without providing any guidance about how to reach that point.


Instructive Onboarding

To prevent this from happening, the company must invest in instructive onboarding that is careful to impart all of the knowledge necessary for the new employee to thrive. While there is a time and place for quick overviews of roles and responsibilities, such as in a quick video, there is still a need for detailed job descriptions and explanations of how to perform each task relevant to a given job. Otherwise, the employees only options are to resort to a trial-and-error approach, likely costing both time and resources, or to consistently ask for help, robbing someone else of the chance to focus on her own responsibilities.

But a more effective approach is to ensure that the onboarding process is able to provide a comprehensive set of instructions that clearly and completely explain how to accomplish each task. This can then be accompanied by quick, cursory explanations of responsibilities and roles. By taking this approach, the company can ensure it meets the varied needs of its many employees and their many jobs.


Finely Tuned Onboarding

One additional point to consider is that not all tasks are as complicated as constructing a cabinet. For small, simple tasks, a quick overview of the steps may be all that any employee could need. However, these will vary from company to company, and employee performance may indicate that a topic which seemed simple actually requires a little more instruction that previously thought. On the other hand, there are those topics which are obviously intricate and complicated, and these are those that should always be explained with detailed instruction.

Keeping all of this in mind, a company that implements Instructive Onboarding is able to fully prepare all of its employees for the tasks ahead of them. For those who are comfortable with their position, they can just look at the cover of the box and assemble the puzzle based off of that picture. But for those who need a little extra guidance, they can follow the instructions piece by piece and have confidence that in the end, they will have constructed the perfect cabinet.


For more information on instructive onboarding, see our other posts at