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The 6 Keys to Ensure Success with an Effective Onboarding Process

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Jill is the founder of a budding startup. She has done her best to hire what she thought was a team that showed fantastic potential. The problem was that only some members saw the same vision the same way and, therefore, progress required more effort to keep the team on the same page. It seemed impossible.

In the early life of a new startup, time is not a friend. Jill must focus precious working capital and resources on building her startup's revenue operations, which is the "engine" of her business. Fail at this, and the company dies. It happens all too often with the high mortality rate of startups.

Jill, as the founder, was doing her best to wear all the hats and do everything she could to keep her new business growth going in the right direction, but one particular team member needed more. Jill wasn't working or providing fast enough, so this team member expressed frustration by communicating hurtfully and disrespectfully.

The inconsiderate words caused Jill to lose trust with this particular team member, because suddenly there was a need to be extra careful and guarded against the frustration and resentment Jill was sensing in the undercurrents between herself and this team member.

In any situation, we can only do our best with what we have until new information and insights become transparent and available, and then we do our best to adjust accordingly.

The process of making a pivot is neither tidy nor linear.

This particular team member resorted to saying callous remarks, making diagnoses and judgement calls on Jill's personal state of being, and then gaslighting when Jill told the team member that their comments were hurtful.

The Great Pain of Not Having a Clear Onboarding Process

Jill’s situation is not a new one.

Lesson learned.

Assembling a group of A-players is essential for driving innovation, overcoming challenges, and achieving sustainable growth. However, hiring the right individuals takes time and there is a certain way of bringing on the right people– fostering a healthy working culture and effective communication requires an efficient onboarding process.

With an effective onboarding process, there is no confusion or frustration. When roles, responsibilities, and tasks are clear, there is less chance of falling out of alignment due to a breakdown of trust and communication.

The Importance of Effective Onboarding:

Jill, the founder of a promising startup, experienced firsthand what happens without an effective onboarding process. Despite hiring a team with great potential, she faced challenges aligning perceptions and keeping everyone on the same page.

6 Keys to Building an A-Player Culture through an Effective Onboarding Process:

1. Enlist the Support of Human Resources

A good HR team has the knowledge and experience to develop and implement an effective onboarding process. They understand the needs of new employees and the company's culture, policies, and procedures and can design a process that helps new hires quickly become productive and engaged. A good HR team ensures that all new employees receive the same information, training, and resources regardless of their position or location. An onboarding process that meets legal and regulatory requirements is critical to avoiding potential problems in the future. HR professionals receive specialized training to ensure the onboarding process complies with local rules.

A good onboarding process can significantly impact employee retention. HR professionals can partner with Founders and business leaders to assist with designing an onboarding process that focuses on building relationships, providing support, and helping new employees acclimate to their new work environment.

Assisting new people to adjust to their new work environment can increase job satisfaction and organizational commitment. A well-designed onboarding process helps new people become productive more quickly and reduce the chances of falling out of alignment, which benefits both team members and the organization. A good onboarding process provides a roadmap for new people to learn the tools and get the training and resources to succeed in their new roles.

2. Communicate and Set Clear Expectations

Before onboarding new team members, it is essential to be clear on roles, responsibilities, and the company's expectations.

An onboarding process helps create a path to clear and mutually respectful communications. It is essential to communicate the primary goals of each role and the part of the business roadmap that this goal accomplishes in the bigger picture.

3. Develop an Onboarding Plan with HR Team

Design a comprehensive onboarding plan, including orientation, training, and mentorship. Enlisting the HR team's help to create a comprehensive onboarding plan helps create a system for welcoming new team members and helping them become familiar with company values, culture, and policies while enabling them to build good working relationships with colleagues.

4. Always Remember Trust Is At The Core of Everything

Trust is at the root of maintaining open and honest communication. When trust breaks down, so does communication, and it can be very difficult to restore trust once broken. Maintaining mutual respect and understanding is essential for keeping communication open, honest, and, most importantly, kind. Open communication, tempered with compassion, creates an environment where people can lean into difficult times, move through the challenges, and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, leading to better collaboration and problem-solving. When trust breaks down, so does everything else.

5. Offer Continuous Feedback and Support

Regularly provide feedback on performance, and offer support to help team members overcome challenges. Continuous feedback and support demonstrate your commitment to their personal and professional growth. Resistance to feedback may be a sign of a deeper problem.

6. Cultivate a Culture of Trust and Respect:

Fostering an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect among team members is a top priority. Keeping disagreements mutually respectful is key to cultivating a culture of trust and mutual respect. With mutual trust and respect, a strong working foundation provides an environment free of criticism and judgment.


The onboarding process is crucial to co-creating an inclusive culture, especially for Founders of startups. By investing time and resources and enlisting HR professionals to develop an effective onboarding process, founders like Jill can build a cohesive team that shares a common vision and commitment by maintaining mutual trust, psychological safety, and kindness. An onboarding process, in turn, helps business leaders navigate the challenges of building an A-Player team, ultimately leading to sustainable growth, harmonious working relationships, and a thriving business.

💡 How has not having an effective onboarding process impacted you in the past?

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