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How I improved onboarding on my team

Patrick Rivers heads up the customer service team at The Predictive Index.

At my previous company, I hired and trained one employee every eight to 10 months. I didn’t feel a real sense of urgency to get my new hires trained up quickly or efficiently. I had a runway to take my time with the process, and the pain just wasn’t there.

Before that, I was at a large corporation with a training department that handled probably 90% of the training. 

Then I came to PI—a company that’s in a state of hypergrowth

For the first time ever, I experienced the pain that comes with hiring and training within a rapidly growing department. As my team grew faster and faster, that pain became more acute. I owned all the training for my team, and I was getting ready to onboard six new hires! 

Shortening our 90-day onboarding program

The onboarding program for my customer service reps took 90 days to complete. I knew I had to shorten this up, not just to get my new team members productive and contributing more quickly, but also to reduce their stress levels. (There’s a lot to learn in the role; employees support two major platforms and several different customer segments.)

But how was I going to pull it off? 

I took a few initial steps, such as:

  • Improving our documentation for common processes
  • Creating some practice scenarios for some of the more involved case types 
  • Being thoughtful about the order of operation for each phase of training

And then I moved on to what would become the most critical part of the process.

Onboarding and Employee Engagement

Learning from employee feedback

The greatest learnings came from my own team members. Getting feedback from the people who had most recently gone through the onboarding process was critical to the success of the initiative.

The biggest piece of feedback was that it was challenging to learn two platforms at the same time. Previously, we had new hires train on both platforms simultaneously because we thought that was the more efficient method. Clearly, we were wrong! 

Bucketing out the training into two separate phases was the golden ticket; after implementing this change—along with the other changes I mentioned—I reduced the onboarding timeline from 90 days to 60 days, and saved our new team members from quite a bit of stress!

I reduced the onboarding timeline from 90 days to 60 days.

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Best practices for onboarding in a high-growth environment

If you find yourself in a position where you need to hire and train several people in a short time span—or if you don’t have a well-defined onboarding plan—follow these steps to get headed in the right direction:

Document your standard processes.

It might feel like a lot of work at the outset, but for the new people coming on board, it’s gold!

Having well-documented SOPs is crucial to getting your people productive quickly. And as a side benefit, you might discover ways to enhance or speed up the process in question.

Let them practice.

Our support team works with many different case types, and some are quite involved. I’m sure in your world you have something comparable; give your new people a chance to practice.

Seek feedback.

This is the most critical piece. Without seeking out and listening to feedback, I never would have known that the process I had put in place (intending to speed things up) actually slowed us down. We’d still be treading water if I hadn’t solicited employee feedback—and acted on it. 

Setting your team up for future success

All in all, revamping the way I onboard new hires on my team was an extremely worthwhile process to go through. Not only did I get my new hires onboarded and productive more quickly, but I also set them up for future success.

And as an added bonus, the team really appreciated having their feedback heard and implemented, which helped me continue to build on the great culture we have in our department and at PI overall. 

Patrick is the customer service manager at PI. He's an SLN nerd with elite hand-eye coordination.

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