In-Describable Onboarding: Onboarding for Independence

How Effective Onboarding Grants Independence to Employees and Their Supervisors

Onboarding for Independence

Effective training has many different components, but when done correctly, it creates freedom for everyone within a company. Onboarding for independence means enabling each employee to focus on his or her own tasks. To see how, consider this old adage:

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; but teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.

This saying helps to understand what it means to be onboarding for independence from a number of different standpoints. Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.

For the Employee

From the employee’s perspective, this adage is fairly straightforward. Once he has learned how to perform his task, he can do so without further instruction. This means that he has confidence in his own abilities, both in completing his assignments and also in responding to any potential problems  that may arise. Even if his proverbial fish is struggling against him, he knows how to respond and is able to reel it in. While he can’t be expected to perform perfectly, he will be able to grow while remembering his training. What’s more, he will also be more efficient because he will require less assistance on a regular basis. And this leads us to the other side of the adage equation…

For the Supervisor

On the other side of the saying is the supervisor, the one who must choose between giving a fish or teaching to fish. Or, to put it more plainly, the supervisor can either assist the employee in performing a task every time it occurs, or she can explain the task to him once, teaching him how to do it by himself and going over potential problems that may arise. This way, the employee can perform his tasks without close assistance.

But equally as importantly, this means the supervisor can also return to accomplishing her own goals without needing to see to the work of each and every employee. Too often this benefit is overlooked, but it is extremely important. An effective onboarding solution frees up the supervisor to tend to her own responsibilities while also ensuring that other employees accomplish their tasks.

Additional Considerations

As with fishing, there is more to onboarding for independence than mere instruction. In addition to the know-how, the employee also needs the tools of the trade, the rod, line, and lure. This means he must be provided with the resources and support around him to ensure that he is able to complete the tasks assigned to him. Included among these tools are things such as handbooks, equipment inspections, and peers and supervisors who can answer questions when they arise. Being independent does not mean being alone but being self-sufficient.


Teaching your employees to fish, then, is the key to maximizing both their efficiency and your own. Onboarding for independence means training them to be self-sufficient. The more confident they are in their roles, the more quickly they will be able to perform their tasks and the better the results they will provide. Additionally, they will need less help from their supervisor, enabling her to focus on her own responsibilities.


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