Onboarding Programs: About More Than the Company

by Sharlyn Lauby on October 25, 2012

Mr. Bartender and I live in a rather small house. Our lawn is the proverbial “postage stamp”. But we do try to maintain what little grass we have with great care (it’s a “Mr. B was raised in the mid-west suburbs” kind of thing). So we have one of those lawn services that sprays fertilizer and weed killer on our grass.

Onboarding, training, customer, employee, programs, onboarding programs, Nancy Newell

Last time the lawn service guy came out, he chastised us for not watering the lawn enough. Then the conversation went something like this:

Mr. B:  But, I water the lawn two times a week.

Lawn Guy:  You should water it every day. That’s what I tell my Dad to do. His lawn looks great!

Mr. B:  But, we have permanent watering restrictions. It’s illegal to water more than twice a week.

Lawn Guy:  [crickets]

It ends up Lawn Guy was a new employee and no one explained to him that the entire county has been under watering restrictions since 2008. As the customer, we kinda expected him to know that given the industry he’s in.

When companies design onboarding programs, they have to include more than just the dress code, department performance standards and other company information. Onboarding programs need to also include anything that’s pertinent to the job or the industry. While one might argue if you live in the county, you should have already known this…you can’t just leave it to chance.

Now you might be thinking, “C’mon Sharlyn! So he didn’t know about watering restrictions. What’s the big deal?” Well, if an employee does something that causes a customer to question their abilities, they might also start to question other aspects of the company. So unless you’re delivering a customer experience that’s pretty darn close to perfect, these little “cricket” moments might make your customers wonder if it’s time to start looking for a different vendor.

Make sure employees learn everything they need to know in order to be successful in their jobs. It’s a win for everyone – the employee, the company and most of all, the customer.

Image courtesy of Nancy Newell [Simutis]

{ 3 comments }

Mahesh Varavooru October 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

Great article. Every small thing matters in front of a customer. If you are not sure, then dont say anything to your customer.

Carolyn Sokol October 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great post, I cannot stress the importance of having a smooth and enjoyable onboarding experience for your new hires. It fosters and enhances the enthusiasm and motivation that is intrinsic when most of us start a new job. More than anything, you want to keep that momentum! Anthony Kelly has recently written a post that you may enjoy here, http://www.comparehris.com/HRIS-is-the-New-Paradigm-for-Onboarding/. There are many different resources available to help you implement & maintain an onboarding process.

Sharlyn Lauby October 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Thanks so much for the comments and sharing resources!

I believe one of the best things we can tell employees is to “not make stuff up.” If you don’t know the answer, that’s fine. Employees aren’t expected to know everything. But then they need to go find out and communicate to the customer.

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