Hiring and Selection

Three Steps to Add to Your Onboarding Process

Onboarding refers to setting up new employees at your organization with the tools they need to be successful, as well as integrating them within your teams. The Birkman Method can dramatically improve your onboarding process by rapidly acquainting new employees with their coworkers by teaching how to best communicate with each of them. Birkman also enlightens the manager on motivating a new employee, helping them reach their maximum potential.

Turnover is costly. Many studies have shown that the cost of losing an employee within the first year is estimated to be two to four times their salary. Direct and indirect costs include lost wages, benefits, expenses, and assets of the employee who leaves, lost time the manager and team invested in training the employee, lost productivity of the whole team during the hiring and retraining of another employee, and this all negatively impacts profitability. In addition, your company's reputation can be directly tied to the success of a new employee acclimating quickly to their new role and into the company's culture. 

onboarding process

Studies show that for companies that do not have a well-defined onboarding program, turnover rates exceed 50% within the first year to retain new executive talent. Onboarding a new hire properly is critical.

1. Teach New Employees About Coworker Communication and Work Styles

A study by the Wynhurst Group stated that "new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years." 

A key component of a structured onboarding process is aligning effective communication styles between the new hire, team, and manager. My firms have found that The Birkman Method can achieve this and more. With over millions of Birkman questionnaires completed over the past 70 years, this tool can provide deep insights into communication and work styles and possible areas of personality conflicts or differences that could lead to catastrophic failures if not addressed. Understanding these potential barriers up front is crucial to creating a smooth onboarding process and a higher-performing team. It's essential to teach your employees about different styles and the importance of accommodating others.

Armed with Birkman data, a manager can discover the nuances of how each employee responds to different situations, therefore, allowing the manager to tune their messages to appeal to each employee. This creates less stress and increased productivity. For the new hire or team member, Birkman acclimates them to a team much quicker by discovering similar traits with their coworkers and their manager. Each can be coached on how to respond based on their own communication and work style and the communication or work style of their manager and teammates. It creates a more collaborative and cohesive working culture resulting in less conflict and more creativity.

2. Provide Tools for Conflict Resolution

My firm recently worked with a CEO who was hiring a National Sales Manager. During the onboarding coaching sessions, The Birkman Method revealed that the two were polar opposites in several personality traits. Once they understood the different communication styles, they practiced adapting their communication style so the other person 'heard' them more clearly. Even when one defaulted back to their natural style, the other person knew that it was just their communication style. This is information that you typically don't learn until a few months after the candidate was hired. It's important to understand this right off the bat as a tool for conflict resolution.

onboarding (5)

Birkman is excellent at pinpointing potential stress points. Self-Consciousness is one of the nine personality components measured by The Birkman Method. Figure 1 shows how Birkman revealed that this same employee was very direct in his communication style. This may lead others to believe he would want them to be just as straightforward in communicating back with him instead of receiving a more empathetic approach. Instead, his Needs shows the opposite. This reveals that he would likely be offended if they did so. He prefers others to communicate with him in a much more gentle, respectful, and tactful way. Knowing his Needs as a new employee, or a current employee, could be the difference between success and failure in the new role.

In another example where a President of a manufacturing firm was hiring a Controller, we found that both of them outwardly showed they liked a structured work environment. Yet, they both wanted the flexibility to set their structure themselves and not have their schedule or tasks dictated by others. When a problem arose, they wanted the freedom to solve it in their own creative way, and not have someone else dictate how it should be solved. We helped them recognize how this similarity could also be a barrier when the President wanted to dictate how to solve challenges the Controller faced. Once they understood this, it enabled them to establish proper boundaries to meet each person's Needs while still meeting the needs of the business. Sometimes these subtle, but essential traits, can open up great discussion points and lead to opportunities to laugh at ourselves.

3. Align Responsibilities and Passions

onboarding (3)-1

Finally, reveal insights into an individual's passions. These areas include Numerical, Persuasive, Administrative, Musical, Technical, and others. This helps us identify activities in which a candidate might thrive or when you should 'outsource' a task to someone else who is more passionate about that area, such as administrative tasks. Managers can then focus on new employees on activities where they have their greatest passions, which will give them the best chance for success. Note, Interests do not mean someone is bad or good at something. Interests are how much a person enjoys an activity. 

Figure 2 shows an example of a sales executive's Birkman Interests. This leader would likely thrive in a motivating atmosphere with data-driven metrics. However, with an Artistic score of 2%, you would not assign this person the task of redesigning your webpage or creating the look and feel for your marketing brochures to keep them motivated. Whenever we take the time to learn about what makes another person tick, we can find more common connections than differences.

As we understand the components that make up our personalities, we realize how unique each person is and the value that uniqueness can bring to an organization. Personality diversity is crucial for an organization to succeed because each unique perspective adds creativity to a team.

Leverage Birkman for Your Onboarding Process

As for my executive search business, leveraging Birkman to onboard our candidates with our clients has proven highly effective. Ensuring new employees are more quickly acclimated into their roles sets them up for success. This has allowed our search firms to extend our placement guarantee from 3 months to 1 year! We have yet to have a client use the guarantee.

Using The Birkman Method for onboarding can dramatically accelerate the relationship between the new employee and the manager. An hour of coaching a week can take the guesswork out of how they should interact. It's essential to keep these one-on-ones going even when they are settled in. It allows employees and managers or coworkers to get to know each other as if they have been working together for years. Learn how to create an effective onboarding process, remove the bias to hire similar personalities, and create alignment on the job role and candidate's interests. Let's connect.

About the Author | Tim Howard

Tim Howard is the founder of Energy Sourcing (www.energysourcing.com) and Fortify Experts (www.fortifyexperts.com), which helps companies find exceptional "embedded" talent through executive search, permanent placement, and project consultants. Tim Howard is a Certified Birkman Professional who helps companies develop high-performing teams by increasing effective communication and reducing personal conflicts. He has been leading technology staffing teams for over 15 years and is the founder of three other technology firms. Tim is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.