Onboarding

Onboarding: This Is Not Your Father’s “First Day on the Job”: Blueline Simulations looks at the organizational phenomenon

Remember your first day on the job, on your first job, all those years ago?

I do. I remember awkward introductions. (“If you need anything at all…” “Hook ‘em horns!”)

I remember paperwork. SO much paperwork.

And I remember pulling up a chair in my undecorated closet-office and going straight to work.

And that was my “onboarding” experience, which, come to think of it, was a term that nobody used. Sure, I had enough human resiliency to eventually navigate my way through the organization.

But today’s organizational practitioners are arguing that launches like mine were a missed opportunity.

Today the “get them to work fast” ethic remains, but the process is tempered by a more nuanced, employee-focused conversation: What value does this job deliver to ME? How do these tasks connect to my sense of aspiration, my purpose, and my own unique value proposition? How does this role position me for the next step in my career? The days of “and here’s the supply closet” are long gone. Onboarding is itself a unique value proposition, an edge in a marketplace desperate to grab the top talent.

Okay, sure, you still need to tell the new employees the after-hours code to the elevator. But there are some more urgent dynamics at work here, because in a world where many dismiss company loyalty as a fossilized idea, some are nonetheless making a bold bid for engagement, enthusiasm, cultural fit, and an instant network that serves as a hedge against costly attrition.

This comprehensive reimagining of the new hire’s “first five days” (and “the first three months” and perhaps even “the first two years”) is a huge investment, but the idea is that it delivers big dividends down the road. In practice, this is indeed proving to be the case.

It is also proving to be a realm of real innovation in learning, with many organizations engineering rich, immersive, and original experiences all for the purpose of extending that new hire’s honeymoon into a solid, lasting relationship.

Blueline Simulations has worked with some of the world’s leading talent-driven organizations to deliver these onboarding experiences. Stay tuned for our next blog, and we’ll give you a peek at some of the breakthrough practices that some organizations are implementing to create high-performing, engaged, and – perhaps most tantalizingly – loyal and committed associates.

Did You See Our Work in T&D Magazine?

Forgive us if we come across like proud parents passing around pictures of our kids. But the onboarding program we developed for Booz Allen is getting a lot of attention and…. Well, gosh, you can’t blame us for wanting to share the good news with friends like you.

Specifically, Blueline Simulations has received the highest distinctions by ASTD, Bersin and others for its innovative onboarding solutions. And in August, the Booz Allen program was featured in T & D Magazine’s “Solutions” feature.

It’s an exciting solution, and you really must see it. The program is built around two Blueline Blueprints™, and those dynamic, table-sized graphics serve as the launch point for a series of activities over four days of immersive learning.

We’d love to tell you more. But there we go, getting all excited again. If you wish, take a look at the article. You’ll learn more about our strategic approach, and the compelling outcomes that the legendary Booz Allen continues to enjoy from the solution.

Want to talk “onboarding?” Join us online!

We’ve got lots of resources available — detailing ways that organizations like yours can use new-hire training as a strategic onboarding opportunity…connecting them to the culture; compressing the learning cycle; and preparing them for immediate success. Come check out our Blog, articles and case studies or join Training & Development Magazine and Blueline Simulations for a free webcast later this month.

What: “Onboarding for Managers”

When: Thursday, October 27, 2pm EST.

Register for this event today!

Want to talk more specifically about how Blueline can bring best-in-industry practices to your onboarding program? Contact Blueline Simulations today.

Blueline Applies its “Secret Sauce” to Booz Allen Hamilton’s Award Winning Onboarding Program

If you recall in a previous post we shared the “secret sauce” that distinguishes the onboarding experiences Blueline creates for its clients.  Now let’s look at how the four elements we identified amount to a “quadfecta” and form an award-winning onboarding program for Booz Allen Hamilton.

1. ContextBlueline created two immersive classroom-based experiences for Booz Allen new hires. First, a Blueline Blueprint learning visual engages new hires in a visual and interactive tour of Booz Allen’s history and culture. Learners work in teams to answer questions, move along a visual timeline of events, and interact with illustrated data.  They see the “big picture” and gain insight into the core values, seminal events and cultural underpinnings of this distinguished organization.

Next, a simulation situates participants in the role of a consulting project team at Booz Allen. Through competition, experiential learning and teamwork, they make decisions and experience consequences that fast-forward them through the learning curve of “what is it like to work here?”

2. Impression – We never get tired of hearing participants in the onboarding programs we create use words and phrases like: “Wow” or “I’ve worked at a lot of companies and have never experienced something like this…” or “This really demonstrates a commitment to employees that I’m excited about.” Blueline and Booz Allen have had the pleasure of being awash in these comments every time this program is run.

3. Engagement and fun – Koosh balls and Lincoln Logs may equal fun in some training experiences, but to what end? Booz Allen new hires represent some of the most experienced and intelligent former military, corporate and government talent in the world. Blueline’s definition of fun in this, and frankly, all of our efforts, is much more sophisticated. In Booz Allen’s onboarding program participants debate ideas (that’s fun for geniuses), compete (of course), and explore information (root cause analysis anyone?) in ways that keep them wanting more.

Teams move along a “game of life”-type visual; making decisions based on knowledge they acquire in experiential activities. Decisions affect consequences that earn or lose “chips.” These chips amount to points accumulated against three key dimensions that represent real-world success at Booz Allen. Events intervene, setbacks occur and promotions and accolades accumulate. We have to practically force them to take breaks!

4. A Culture Focus – There are few corporate cultures we have encountered as diverse and inclusive as Booz Allen Hamilton’s. An administrative new hire from Mumbai may be seated in the onboarding classroom next to a former full-bird Colonel. Blueline and Booz Allen collaborated intently to be sure this experience represents and includes the myriad of roles and textures that make up the Booz Allen organization. The Blueline Blueprint learning visual grounds each new-hire in the cultural foundation of the organization, then allows every participant to find him or herself in a character or a role represented in the simulation.

Stay tuned for the “rest of the story.” In our next blog we’ll share what has happened at Booz Allen since our intervention and where Blueline is going next in this dynamic onboarding space.

Chances are, you or your competitors are hiring again. Maybe now is a good time to talk about Strategic Onboarding.

Having weathered the deepest recession of our generation, many organizations are beginning to report that they are hiring new employees. Others seem to be waiting as long as possible before bringing new people on board.

Those who do delay adding new employees will have a heightened need to get new people up to speed and productive as quickly as possible to provide relief for overstretched resources.

I’d like to tell you about three very influential organizations we’re working with who have implemented world class new hire training,  all of whom we expect will be given accolades for their inspired designs: consulting legend Booz Allen Hamilton; a Fortune 10 financial institution; and America’s largest wireless carrier. Today they’re seeking to bring new people up to speed, as quickly and productively as possible.

Why make such a fuss about Onboarding?

There are lots of reasons our clients invest in the design and development of a superior onboarding program. While job readiness and time to productivity top the list, employee affiliation, reduced attrition, risk avoidance and compliance follow close behind. You don’t have to work too hard to make the case for ROI.

Blueline Simulations has received the training industry’s highest accolades for our onboarding work, and I don’t mind sharing our secret sauce. In all of our designs (and I’ll give you a closer look at several of them in the next few blog posts), we differentiate by emphasizing four elements.

  1. Context
    The use of immersive simulation, whether classroom or online, puts the training in context. This dramatically shortens time to productivity and diminishes risk. Too many onboarding curriculums fail to create a “safe environment” for the learners to practice, and as Elliot Masie likes to say “provide them with the opportunity to fail forward.”
  2. Impression
    A well-designed onboarding curriculum makes a strong first impression. And as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a strong first impression. Our clients strive to create a memorable experience that elicits pride and reinforces the person’s decision to come on board. This has an immediate and measurable impact on affiliation and attrition.
  3. Engagement and fun
    Sure, fun is part of making a positive impression. But “fun”is a strategic design consideration that has been shown to significantly increase learning and knowledge retention. Plus, top quality new hires have high expectations when they join an organization. If their first experiences don’t engage and excite them, then a significant opportunity to engender commitment and passion for the company is wasted.
  4. A culture focus
    In many of our designs for these influential companies, we provide an engaging “tour” of the company, including its history and important cultural elements. Even beyond this exercise in organizational storytelling, every experience needs to reflect and convey the culture. We pay attention to how employee diversity is portrayed in the graphical elements, and even focus on how the formal and informal language is used. That’s because we are determined that all aspects of the onboarding experience must reinforce the culture and values of the organization.

Regardless of the particular medium or approach taken for your onboarding program, you would do well to review how well it provides context, creates a strong positive impression, developments engagement and communicates and conveys culture.

Next week, we’ll look at how Booz Allen Hamilton built from these four foundations.

Blueline Client, Booz Allen Hamilton, wins Bersin Learning Leaders’ award for Learning and Talent Initiative Excellence

The Bersin Learning Leaders program is designed to identify the very best in organizational learning and talent management. The program’s goal is not just to provide awards – but to recognize organizations which are driving high-value solutions based on business strategies. Bersin’s focus is on the use of benchmark criteria based on years of in-depth study across all areas of learning and talent management.

The program categories cover six major areas of learning and talent solutions, and encompass the key ways that organizations can drive value:

  1. Operational Training and Development Excellence
  2. Leadership Development Excellence
  3. Learning and Talent Initiative Excellence
  4. Learning and Talent Technology Excellence
  5. Learning Organization and Governance Excellence
  6. Vendor Innovation in Learning and Talent Management

The 2010 Learning Leaders represent the very best of enterprise learning and talent management with high impact on the business. Our Client, Booz Allen Hamilton, was announced as the winner of the Learning and Talent Initiative Excellence for the work that we did with them to create a positive new hire experience.

To learn more about Bersin’s Learning Leaders program, and the work that Blueline Simulations did with Booz Allen Hamilton to create an award winning Onboarding Experience, click the link below:

Learning Leaders 2010: Lessons from the Best