In-Describable Onboarding: Onboarding as Insurance

What Fireworks and Haircuts Can Teach You about Effective Onboarding

Onboarding as Insurance

There is nothing quite like setting off fireworks to mark a special event, and they can teach us a lot about viewing Onboarding as Insurance. They can create a beautiful display, and their presence always means that something important is being celebrated. However, when it comes to setting them off at home, there is always a bit of concern regarding just what exactly will happen once the fuse is lit.


Firework Display

While you may have a general idea of what is supposed to happen based on the name or the packaging, that may not be enough to tell you whether to expect a high launch and loud explosion or a bright, hissing fountain. This means that you have to exercise extra caution, giving it an abnormally wide berth and ensuring it is firmly fixed on a launching platform, just in case. This is what I like to call the wild card factor, which is when you think you know what will happen but can’t be sure until it actually does.

From a company’s standpoint, there is always something of a wild card factor in place after hiring a new employee. You may have checked her resume and called her references, but once the employee is on the job and working, you may realize she does not work out like you were expecting. Like the firework display, it just may not live up to your expectations. However, unlike the firework display, there is something you can do after hiring her to ensure her job performance is what you need it to be. And  to understand what that is, we need to consider a trip to the barber.


Barber without a Cause

Imagine you have moved to a new city and are on the hunt for a new barber. You ask around and do a little research and find one that looks trustworthy and decide to go there for a trim. You walk in, sit down, ask for a haircut, and say nothing more, providing no additional information. The barber gets to work, and you sit and watch as your hair falls down into your lap. There are no mirrors around, so you’ll just have to wait until the end to see what sort of style you will now wear. You are again facing a wild card factor.

Of course, this is not what we typically do, and this would certainly cause a fair amount of anxiety regarding how the barber will choose to cut your hair. Instead, you are more likely to talk about how you typically like to wear your hair and what sort of cut you would like, along with information about how much you would like cut off. While you would still be uneasy with the lack of mirrors to see what is happening, you would feel some security in knowing that you were specific in describing what you wanted.


Onboarding as Insurance

How does all of this relate to Onboarding as Insurance? Well, just like with going to a new barber, the process of training a new employee can present a wild card factor if there is little communication between that employee and the company. Without a conversation regarding expectations and time spent explaining how to  perform her tasks, the new employee is left to do her job based on her own previous experiences and ideas.

For the company, this will lead to anxiety about her performance, just as with the barber who has no instructions or mirrors. Onboarding as Insurance, then, is not merely about the company’s ability to defend itself if something goes wrong, but also about preventing something from going wrong by properly preparing its employees for their jobs. Rather than worrying that she may not do what she was hired to do, the company can rest easy that it has explained the job and how to perform it.

Additionally, a comprehensive onboarding system provides feedback throughout an employee’s transition to the company, allowing for supervisors to work together with her to help her adapt to new systems and answer any questions she may have. Just like the mirrors surrounding the barber, this gives both employee and company the opportunity to keep track of progress and watch for any potential problems, addressing them before they become serious issues. Thus, Onboarding as Insurance means that both sides can be confident in the work being done and know that there is a system in place to keep things running smoothly.


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