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Five Ways Lean | Agile Enterprises Rock At Onboarding

28 September 2016

by: Fabiola Eyholzer

Lean | agile enterprises are more successful in absorbing new hires and getting them up to speed. They naturally embrace and ignite people to inspire and make them part of something great. And their onboarding is a real kick-starter on so many levels: it is instant, it is effective, it is sustainable – and above all it is fun.

Sometimes hiring managers are so driven to fill a position they neglect to set new employees up for success through proper onboarding — the process of absorbing new hires and getting them up to speed.

It goes without saying that failing to integrate new employees can lead to delayed results, frustrated co-workers, and disrupted team dynamic or even worse: losing your new employee due to “hire’s remorse” and having to start the recruiting process all over again.

Organizations have long ago realized the need and benefits of onboarding and many have implemented an array of initiatives like town hall meetings, boot camps, roundtable discussions, meetings with key insiders, and field experiences.

Unfortunately, many are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, technology hassles, and boring company presentations?

Even appealing onboarding programs typically do not sustainably deal with the core difficulty of embracing and connecting people, giving them a common sense of purpose and making them part of something great. And since employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job, it is the time to really unleash their passion for the job and show them the value of their contribution.
Lean | agile enterprises do! Here are five ways how they rock onboarding.

  • Feature pre-integration activities
  • Create momentum on the first day
  • Integrate into empowered, collaborative teams
  • Inspire meaning and purpose
  • Turn colleagues into mentors


1. Feature pre-integration activities

When people sign a contract they are excited and eager to get started. For a powerful inclusion it is important to keep up that buzz and show them that they are now part of a great organization.

It means staying in touch and communicating on a regular basis. Especially when there is a long overlap between signing the contract and onboarding. Keep them informed about what is going on with the organization and their team. If possible have them join team sessions like learning clubs or social gatherings.

That way they get accustomed to interact with their new colleagues and become part of the team – long before their assignment starts. So they are ready for an important milestone: The first day on the job.

2. Create momentum on the first day

The first day is basically your last chance to make a positive first impression on your new employee. That is why we make the first day about:

  • A warm welcome – Have that desk ready with a welcome committee and gift bag with some company merchandise at hand.
  • Personal interactions – Make sure to connect with colleagues and shareholders.
  • Showing character – Allow your culture and the uniqueness of your employees and teams shine through.
  • Letting new hires feel productive – Give them something to work on immediately and help them accomplish it.

There is no better way to engage new hires than to let them leave the office with a sense of belonging and achievement. That is what will make the first day memorable – in the best sense possible – and it will create momentum.

Anyone familiar with sports in any capacity will know the importance of momentum: One little success can change the demeanor of an individual and an entire team. And when momentum begins to grow, confidence builds, and the impossible becomes achievable.

3. Integrate into empowered, collaborative teams

Targeted pre-integration activities and getting the first day right are important. But lean | agile organizations go one step further: They culturally embrace lean | agile values and principles, creating a stimulating and interactive work environment within a flexible loose organizational network, that is formed around inspired teams.

And new hires are immediately included into those empowered, collaborative, self-organizing teams. So they are an integral part of something great right from the start. They don’t have to sit behind a desk reading some manuals and doing back ground research. Instead they are thrown right into the thick of things and kick-off in intense discussions and supportive actions with teammates.

Together they strategize on how to generate customer value, approach new challenges, and get things done. It is the start of shared goals, meaning, and purpose. 

4. Inspire meaning and purpose

There is nothing more inspiring than doing a job that has meaning. I am not talking about having “meaningful work”, which refers to the task itself. I am talking about the pride someone takes in what they do. People want to know why their job exists and that it has meaning – that they’re helping someone else or making the world a better place.

When people understand the deeper purpose behind their work, they are likely to be more satisfied and more productive. Then you give it an extra boost by connecting their personal goals (intrinsic purpose) with your shared objectives to provide the extrinsic purpose. (You will have verified they are compatible during the hiring process).

Agile methodologies like scrum (the most popular one) are great at providing shared meaning and focusing on customer value. And each iteration (work cycles of typically 1-4 weeks) is packed with customer focus, commitment, interactions, collaboration, continuous learning, knowledge sharing, feedbacks and retrospectives. 

5. Turn colleagues into mentors

Empowering new hires and teaming them up with inspiring people to work collaboratively towards shared goals is key in lean | agile. From day one, new employees get tons of personal interactions, hands-on support and direct advice.

It is fellow team members and stakeholders who naturally act as leaders, coaches and mentors. They guarantee training on the job, job enrichment, learning & development simply because it is so strongly embedded in lean | agile structures and work methods. There is no need to wait for that scheduled feedback session with HR and/or a manager.

Lean | agile leaders hire the best people, then get out of the way.


In such a vibrant environment, new talents (or old talents in new roles) are swift to embrace their role and identify with their team and organization. They feel a sense of belonging, engagement, and commitment. This boosts their performance considerably faster than in any other setting.

That is why lean | agile is such an effective onboarding approach on so many levels: it is instant, it is powerful, it is sustainable – and above all it is fun. Making it a valuable experience not only for your new hires, but the whole team.

Are you ready to spark the passion of your talents?

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