Knowledge driven onboarding

Knowledge is ever more important for businesses around the world. Knowledge continuity is threatened by employee turnover and retirement. New knowledgeable employees are searched and hired continuously. Getting these new people up to speed as fast as possible is key to your organization’s success. Onboarding is not just about showing the company restaurant and explaining the way to declare expenditures. Real onboarding involves crafting personal social relations and meeting peers in your new organization.

Two of the major drawbacks to onboarding are: On-boarding is often regarded as a one-way process. The new hire needs to be onboarded into the organization. We like to look at it as a two-way process; the organization also needs to get to know the new hire and their expert knowledge and expertise. The second drawback to onboarding is that its often left to the new hire’s manager and/or mentor. Thereby the potential network of the new hire will be limited to theirs.

How can you give a new hire this kick start to their onboarding? This approach assumes you have some sort of knowledge guide or repository in place for your organization, at best a social knowledge network with connected experts and knowledge topics. These steps can easily be integrated into your current hiring/onboarding process.

Step 1: everyone involved in the hiring of a new employee lists 3 (existing) knowledge topics to describe this person (e.g. customer-focused; sales-force knowledge; road cycling).

Step 2: the collective knowledge profile generated from these knowledge endorsements is presented to the new hire to acknowledge or decline

Step 3: based on this verified knowledge profile; 3 to 5 people with the highest knowledge similarity AND a different department/location are drawn from the current employees.

Step 4: both the internal employees are informed of the new hire and the new hire is informed about the (potential) peer experts elsewhere in the organization.

Research shows that on-boarding and the creation of an individual social network within a new organization generally take 24 to 30 months (that’s more than TWO years!). With this approach, you can shorten that time by more than 50%.

In the picture above this article, the new employee (large green sphere) is connected to important colleagues (large blue spheres) outside her own team (green spheres) based on her knowledge profile (large red spheres).

The success of the approach is based on the knowledge-driven nature; people are only connected based on shared knowledge/interests. The approach can also be applied to existing employees who are (getting) disconnected. The most important part is the knowledge-driven information on new hires sent to existing experts in the organization.

Want to discuss how to improve onboarding in your organization? Let´s schedule a coffee!

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