Onboarding Overview* ( *Third Stewardship Practice)

Onboarding is the third Stewardship Practice for Field Leaders.  So here is a brief overview of onboarding with references to previous onboarding posts.  See IMPACT Post, June 20, 2012  for the all five, foundational Stewardship practices of field leaders.   Click here to view the Stewardship chart.

What is Onboarding?  It is an intentional process to help new leaders to become quickly effective in the basics in his/her new role.  For our field leaders’ discussion, onboarding is from selection until the end of the first year in the position. (IMPACT Post: February 15, 2012)

What are some Key Foci of Onboarding?

  1. Intentional: from selection to the end of the 1st year.  The process will have multiple stages from appointment to the end of the 1st year (IMPACT Post: February 15, 2012).  For each stage, the learning, support and coaching will focus on the needs of that stage.
  2. Practical: on authentic needs that will immediately provide benefit on a daily basis.  Onboarding focuses on “basic competencies”, which are only 5-20% of the total competencies needed for the job (the other 95-80% are called “full competencies”). 1
  3. Individualized: to the needs of the new leader as he/she enters a specific context and specific missionaries.  Individualization examines both the uniqueness person and context in designing the specific onboarding process.  If a person moves from one level of leadership to another, that person still needs a specially prepared onboarding process (IMPACT Post: March 29, 2012).  These specific plans can utilize workshops, but helps the field leader make specific, personalized applications.
  4. Coaching centric: the purpose is to help the new leader respond to immediate needs and become proactively effective quickly.  While workshop can be very helpful, the needs of the onboarding field leader often require immediate response which cannot wait until the workshop is scheduled.  In such circumstance, the supervisor and designated coach need to provide the understanding, perspective and encouragement.
  5. Just-in-time Development and Support: focuses on “just-in-time” connection whether it is “just-in-time” coaching, training, workshops, discussions or care.  The content of these interventions serves the underpinning for immediate application, not long-term competency development.  Following a blended learning approach described in SkillSoft’s white paper can help the new field leaders’ learning begin with good input and end with integration into their life and practice.
  6. Peer Rich:  Develop peer groups of field leaders who can provide support, insight and training to the new field leader.  Peer field leaders are the ones who understand the stresses and challenges as well as resources and disciplines needed for this unique position of service. Some organizations have found a new field leader workshop as a good place to develop a support and learning cohort among new field leaders.
  7. Supervisor as principle coordinator:  The key facilitator for a new field leader’s onboarding is the supervisor.  The supervisor can be a resource linker to other coaches and trainers, but cannot relinquish his/her pivotal role.

What are some Key Content Questions?

  1.  What knowledge, skills or perspectives are needed at each stage and will bring a high return in immediate ability to perform?
  2. What are areas of costly mistakes? (e.g. in practices, in relationships, in credibility)  What can we do to limit those errors?
  3. What are key difficult tasks for the new field leader? (e.g. with missionaries, government, operationally, organizationally)  How can we mediate these challenges and make them achievable?
  4. What are key habits, perspectives and understandings which will promote healthy habits, credibility and long-term effectiveness?
  5. What support will help the new field leader and family make a healthy transition?  (IMPACT Post: March 8, 2012)  Who are key supporters for each person in this transition?

1  Jimenez, Ray E., Vignettes Learning. “Onboarding Best Practices” Webinar by TrainingIndustry.com, 2011

What are you ideas on Onboarding for field leaders?  You might discover that you are already practicing some of the key ideas.  Whatever place you are on this journey, give us your insights by clicking on the “Leave a reply” button.

2 thoughts on “Onboarding Overview* ( *Third Stewardship Practice)

  1. Thanks Ken for all these posts on onboarding. As I have recently looked at the leadership development we do within our organization, I think onboarding is probably our weakest link. The sixth focus point (the supervisor is the primary coordinator) means that our focus must be on training the supervisors to do the onboarding rather than thinking that the training department bears direct responsibility for onboarding.

  2. Thanks Ken for your comments. I am excited that you recognize the importance of the supervisor in onboarding. This doesn’t mean that other coaches and workshops are not important. They are, but someone needs to own the whole process. And that is the responsbility of the supervisor. And a director of training can be a great resource for the supervisors.

    I agree that training of the supervisors is very important. In a supervisor training workshp, or some other way, it would be helpful for the organization to develop a general onborading plan for supervisors of each field leader level. This would help the supervisor identify issues that would need individualized attention for a specific field leader. The general plan could also have a check list for quick reference. If the check list had indentified resources (e.g. books, videos, workshops, webinars, coaches, effective peers) for each point, it would greatly enhance the facilitation of onboarding and reduce time demands, allowing the supervisor to focus on the individual instead of hunting for resources. All of this could be updated annually based on supervisor and new field leader feedback.

    If you develop such a list, let us know so others can “piggy back” on your work.

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