by Paul Casey

6 Essentials of Onboarding

When bringing on a new team member for your company or non-profit, the orientation process is crucial for starting them out as an “aligned contributor” in that very first month. And if YOU are the one new to a team, and there is no formal onboarding process, you can use this as your up-to-speed learning checklist.

  • The mission/vision/core values of the organization. These form the organization’s core philosophy. Why we exist (mission), where we are always heading (vision), and what we stand for (values) must be understood and committed to, by every team member. The best person to inculcate the newcomer is the organization’s CEO or Chair so that he/she hears the passion behind the mission from the top on day one.
  • The key players on the team. The first weeks of the newbie need to be spent on relationship-building with those with whom he/she will be shoulder-to-shoulder in accomplishing the mission. It’s critical to understand the org chart’s roles and responsibilities and how this particular position interacts with the other ones on a weekly basis. Tell stories of how each got to the organization and why they are attracted to this culture.
  • The customers/constituents. Have him/her get face-to-face with the folks that the organization serves, at the intersection where their products/services are delivered. Shadowing a current team member allows the newcomer to hear how interactions are best handled.
  • The tools/equipment. Prepare for the new team member’s arrival with their business cards/name plate made, their computer/email address ready to rock-and-roll, office space outfitted with essentials, handbook copied in a binder, safety equipment laid out, or whatever is needed to hit the ground running.  Acclimate them to the copier, the security system, and other tools they’ll have to navigate.
  • The job description’s 3-4 main pillar tasks. What are the non-negotiable major duties that this person must perform every week to be successful, and what does a win look like if done well? Answer questions to give clarity. It’s much harder to retrain a bad habit than to be crystal-clear upfront.
  • A mentor. Choose a person on the team who has a heart for mentoring this person through those first months on the team. If he/she has a question, that point of contact will patiently turn it into a learning opportunity until it’s assimilated into their knowledge/skill.  Show him/her who else might be go-to helpers when specific questions arise.

This forms a skeleton of an outline for onboarding that you can then fill in with your organization’s individualized items.  Let’s set our people up for success! Got more main categories to add to my list? Let’s chat about it at


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