Onboarding IS important

"What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye."                                                                 ~Horace

Next to recruitment, the hiring process and managing foreward, onboarding is an organization's playbook that communicates how important its employees are. After going through this process numerous times, often one can correlate how their onboarding experience predicts how the remaining career may go. Turnover or churn costs money, drains profits, and can be avoided. I recommend organizations evaluate its "first impressions" and escalate the importance to be in line with recruiting the best talent.
Fortunately, I have had the distinction of being hired by some heavy weights. Unfortunately, the size or reputation of the organization does not guarantee a strong onboarding experience. Often the vision statements and first day experience don't match up. Size or reputation don't necessarily align with onboarding excellence. Circumstances don't dictate whether it will be positive either -- whether you were hired by the President or an HR professional tasked with recruiting.
It shouldn't matter who is being hired: an executive, a middle manager or frontline employee. An onboarding strategy communicates to new employees how important they are in the scheme of things and can foreshadows events. Minimizing first day enthusiasm is detrimental to your organization.
Those on Linked In or elsewhere spend a lot of time helping others get hired, then skip right into organizational issues -- leadership, best/worse bosses, communications, etc. etc. Yet onboarding, tends to be flat or ignored altogether: a foray of forms, introductions, etc.
Thankfully, there a few organizations that are fluid in all its dealing with new employees, from its recruiting to hiring to onboarding. They haven't skipped over to organizational charts, assigning responsibilities, setting performance metrics. Simply said: a "produce or perish" mentality doesn't bode well for the most optimistic or talented individual. An avoidable poor tone can override any excitement and compound nerves that can carry forward for days or years to come. After all the tests on intelligence, cultural fit, experience and reference checks, why isn't onboarding as important as all of that? Seems like a no brainer to me, yet it is often overlooked. I can identify with poor onboarding experiences. I've seen colleagues start on their first day, not know who will greet them, no ID badge, no computer, no computer log on, business cards, parking pass, etc.
According to WIKIPEDIA "onboarding" means (adapted from Bauer & Erdogan, 2011):
Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.[1] Tactics used in this process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, or computer-based orientations to introduce newcomers to their new jobs and organizations. Research has demonstrated that these socialization techniques lead to positive outcomes for new employees such as higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in occupational stress and intent to quit.[2][3][4] These outcomes are particularly important to an organization looking to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly mobile and globalized workforce. In the United States, for example, up to 25% of workers are organizational newcomers engaged in an onboarding process.[5]

Image source: Google Search Result: HR Council

There you have it: organizational socialization. Any organization that demonstrates a caring for that new employee usually has planned this important "first impression" that lasts, disguised as onboarding that communicates:
  • We're happy to have you
  • You made a great decision to join us
  • We will prepare you for your job
  • We will ensure you know who, what, where you will start
  • We will support your success in every step of the way
  • We will onboard you: orientation, training, and an Agenda
  • We will ensure that someone will be there to greet you
  • We will assign a mentor who shows the right behaviors
  • We will ensure that you have all the tools from Day 1

At minimum, a new hire checklist with assigned responsible party should be mapped out and assigned:

  • A computer with log on credentials - IT
  • An ID badge - Security
  • Someone to greet you: your manager or a mentor
  • Where you will go: a training room, an orientation classroom, a desk - HR
  • An agenda: what you can expect in the upcoming days until you start assignment
  • Paperwork: forms, more forms to fill out, Policies, Code of Ethics, etc.
  • Training or orientation: a classroom or boardroom where you are given an overview, history, expectations, paperwork, benefits
  • Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • omething that communicates that the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with your new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on your first day in orientation or training room
  • An orientation or training environment where you meet others on similar first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)

You can sweeten the experience and establish first day traditions:
  • Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with the new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on the first day 
  • An orientation or training environment to meet others who share the first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)
Granted, logistics, schedules and a whole whack of other interfering factors can hamper that first day experience. Simply said, don't assume the manager can ensure all the particulars are taken care of while multitasking: taking care of business, supervising other employees, meeting with customers, etc.. You can't assume either that HR has it all covered. They may be assume it is the recruiting or benefits, payroll forms. IT may have a serious matter to take of that distracted them from their responsibilities.
By having an ONBOARDING Agenda with responsibilities assigned (and those assigned have backup designated) is as important as any and all recruiting process. Even better, if it is mapped out visually like your organizational chart. Just don't assume that it is taken care of.

"Never assume everyone knows something:  that only guarantees nothing will get done"                                                                 ~Jeannette Marshall

#Hashtag heaven and going viral on social media

The #icebucketchallenge is absolutely #brilliant.

Unless you live in somewhere without internet connection (like where?), you may not be aware of an internet phenom that has gone viral in the past week.
As a potential social media magician i want you to participate in this. Go to Google or Bing and search the following: "Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Tailor Swift, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga" (and just about any other famous people you want to add on that you're a fan of) separated by commas.
The results? (Putting on my magician hat, placing my fingers against my forehead, and humming 1 sec) .... Poof! Voila! The top four results fall under the "Ice Bucket Challenge".
Magic? Well, if I were on Penn and Teller's "Fool Us" they just may be social media savvy enough to know that the magic behind my prediction was the power of using #hashtags in #socialmedia.
It should explain what all the fuss is about and help explain the power of using #hashtags. What is a #Hashtag?
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the number sign ("#"). It is a form of metadata tag.  Words in messages on microblogging and social networking services such as TwitterFacebookGoogle+VK or Instagram may be tagged by putting “#” before them (1) either as they appear in a sentence (e.g.  “New artists announced for #SXSW2014 Music Festival” (2) or appended to it.  The term “hashtag” can also refer to the hash symbol itself.  (3) Hashtags make it possible to group such messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.  A hashtag is only connected to a specific medium and can therefore not be linked and connected to pictures or messages from different platforms.

Because of its widespread use, the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014.
Unlike most talented magicians, I am going to share the secret how this got up so far in search rankings and became a phenom this past week: when a person/company/profile/celebrity tweets, shares on Facebook, uploads a video on You Tube, +s on Google Plus using the # sign in front of the word, it creates a Hashtag. Regardless of whether it is an event, a person, insight, quote, inspiration .... if it catches on .... i.e. is shared, retweeted, liked, +d ... it will begin trending.
Before I can say "Voila!" (being in a bilingual country Canada I respectfully include my fellow patriots) .... news media outlets on radio, television, newsprint, magazines, you name it have people (this is a suspicion that I cannot verify) have professional lurkers on social media to detect emerging trending topics to a new way of sharing news versus the old way on more cumbersome production requirements while still using that old blessed competition that is striven for: being the first to scoop a hot topic before anyone else.
The old way of getting our news is not just up to the minute, it is up to the second! No professional voice overs, trusted news anchors, esteemed journalists need apply. The use of hashtags alert ALL of the search engines to the trend and OUI (YES!) it appears on the first page -- regardless of whether it is competitors Google or Bing, etc. It is there! If you just try one social media platform (hint) try Twitter, then see what is trending (it will appear on your page when you log on). Or, if you think your Tweet is subjective to a specific audience, then use it for Tweets sake: #business #Linked In #social media #sales .... tag on a hashtag and click on that hashtag (which will appear in blue) -- POOFeroni -- you will magically appear on a page of others who are using the same hashtag. Talk about speed networking!

The terminology is different and dependent on the platform but means the same thing ... it just helps some folk portray themselves as social media wizards when they speak circles around you injecting terms you are not familiar with -- another pet peeve that falls under the same category as acronyms.  I prefer to become known as an educational informant.
Yes, even you or your organization can be a magician. Watch what is trending, sprinkle in the hashtag ... you'll find yourselves cropping up also higher on search page rankings, influence scores (i.e. Klout, KRED). Now, you're a cool kid again (whoopee)! For literal telecommunication translation: The number # sign is also referred to as the "pound key" on your keyboard or phone.  

Better yet - you will be communicating with the popular kids again. Your antiquated outdated methods can be flung aside. You don't have to referee between IT or marketing any longer - YOU are now in the the KNOW! You are the magician of your own destiny.
Note: Image source: (you guessed it) Google :o)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on Linked In

"You wouldn't worry about what others think of you if only you realized they seldom do."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Now that I await my next career pinnacle to begin with an innovative, forward thinking telecommunication company with a solid balance sheet and clear executive management direction (criteria I used when evaluating who I wanted to work for), I am better equipped to step back and think about Linked In clearly and objectively on its benefits as a professional.
  • OLD Connections: with former colleagues, clients and managers that I otherwise may have lost touch with had I not signed up for Linked In.
  • NEW Connections: with thought innovators, active Linked In participants who offer expertise, share knowledge for free WITHOUT trying to sell anything (an application, a trial, a software, a service, information);
  • RECOMMENDATIONS: I've been reminded about some of the good I've done in my career when past associates provide Recommendations. The most honorable being the ones who did it without any encouragement, or some of the ones who we faced and collaborated to overcome obstacles together. Reminding me that issues are often not self-induced, often requiring hard work, dividing and conquering, and a positive attitude. People remember how you handled it and fixed matters far longer than what the issues may have been to begin with.
  • INFORMATION: Knowledge, learning and sharpening your skills are important in this fast changing world. What mattered yesterday is not what matters today.
  • FOLLOW: Linked In makes it easy for you to "FOLLOW" companies or organizations that you are interested or involved in -- be it as a shareholder, investor, vendor, contributor. You can also "FOLLOW" those that inspire you or whom you would like to learn from -- Bill Gates, Richard Branson, to mention a couple that are obvious.
  • ENTREPRENEURS: If you are a business owner you should be on top of what is impacting business today. Even if you are ready to cross it off as irrelevant to your own business (i.e. cloud, data or social media), you may want to be informed to avoid pitfalls you may unwillingly be falling into.
  • SALES PROFESSIONALS: Linked In, to many sales professionals, is a contact grab and that is about it. Don't just use a name as a contact, title for your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to keep managers at bay or to accumulate names. You can benefit by "Follow"ing your customers/company for insight on what they are saying or sharing -- so that you can expand your insights and identify opportunities for what you are selling.
  • WEB-I-NOMICS: Linked In is a cash cow of information that allows others to gain knowledge. You can curate valuable information for your website that inform and create conversations with your customers, vendors and prospects.
  • EXPERTISE: Linked In features are continuously expanding and bringing value to its users. You can collaborate, curate, post, share information that eventually can signify your expertise on subject matters. You can write blog posts to expose your knowledge to draw advocates, followers, colleagues, managers, customers and vendors. Even sharing quotes, articles from third parties, can attract comments or shares that endorse the worthiness of what you are sharing.
  • GROUPS: One of the first features I started using was joining a couple of groups that related to my career. They allowed me to participate in discussions, answer questions ... which tested my expertise, collaborated with others, .... or pose questions from others to provide input from the same industry or professional designation (i.e. Project Manager, Business Development, etc). I have made significant contacts that have brought tremendous growth, learning, mentoring and value.
  • PRIVACY: You are in control of what others see about you because you personally create your profile. You can set your profile privacy to make it difficult for recruiters, spammers or serial sales people from pitching you (which can be annoying to some if not all). You can also see who has looked at your profile (as long as they don't set themselves as anonymous).
  • JOBS: If you are looking for work, Linked In is a superb repository of information on a variety of recruitment firms, looking up the person you may be interviewing with, connecting with those who may bridge an opportunity (i.e. referrals) look up a company, or link to website, etc.
  • COMMUNICATE: You can make Linked In what you want it to be. You can reach out, touch base with your contacts. I like Linked In feature of letting me know who has a new job to congratulate them on, celebrating a work anniversary, or even acknowledging a birthday. You can control how you communicate and not disclose your personal email by restricting and staying within Linked In MESSAGES. It does allow you to check off if you don't mind sharing your personal email or as the next step in communications.
  • PERSONALIZE: This profile is all about you! How rigid you are filling in the blanks may demonstrate just that. Give insight to your personality, whether it is gregarious or academic, think of your audience and what perception you want them to have. Use the summary if you're bursting with creativity. AND ... for heaven's sake, post a photo. I won't get into the selfies, because we all know if you are on this planet you have a phone with a camera. You may as well use it. Suffice to say, you may be a water skiing enthusiast or were the party favor at the last event, but this is not the place you want to showcase that. Photo finishing has diminished so those businesses offer photo taking services and will even have a scanned image that you can upload at a nominal fee -- think Passport photo with a smile -- smiling is never a bad idea if you want to appear friendly and approachable.
  • SELF-PROCLAIMED EXPERTS: There are so many "Experts" on Linked In my head spins at times. In fact, if someone states "EXPERT" on the profile, my first reaction is to think "NOT!". Ultimately, expertise is a label that others give you. It is often demonstrated by a lot of credible Recommendations from subject matter professionals.
  • SELF-PROMOTION: If all you post is me, myself, I ... that is about all who is going to be reading what you post. Your connections will appreciate posts and shares that are interesting and relevant to a professional audience.
  • ANONYMITY: Privacy protection and security are front and center in many people and company's minds. Therefore, they will set their privacy by default to remain anonymous. On the flip side, I'm not sure others feel the same way, lurking a profile under cover can be annoying to the recipient. In my opinion, being open also relays credibility. I am certain there are a variety of reasons why persons want to remain hidden, I'm just not a fan of this practice.
  • COSTS: Nothing is ever free 100%. Linked In is accountable for its financials and creates nuggets to entice you to subscribe to additional features and benefits. At least it isn't hidden and you can see your options and determine what is best for you. Heck, you can probably write it off as a professional subscription or networking expense.
  • ENDORSEMENTS: With the added feature of "Endorsements" comes questioning (to me anyhow) how important or how much weight others play on this feature. For example, if you have a lot of connections, you may not do business with them personally -- how can they truly attest to the skill being endorsed? The user selects the skills on their profile, which is flagged in front of their connections to endorse them. However, it is cool when an associate endorses you that you do know -- it can be a signal that they recognize that ability. The user can distinguish this, while the audience cannot. Alternatively, if someone endorses you, do you feel obliged to endorse them for something that you may not have professionally experienced?
  • AWARENESS: Linked In helps entrepreneurs, executives, employees and companies have presence on its pages. I'm amazed when I suggest to someone to get a profile up and they hesitate or avoid it altogether, citing the reason as privacy. In today's world, that is hardly an excuse but certainly it is everyone's prerogative. I also suggest that if you have a company or organization, create your Company Page. Don't assume either that since it is there that it should remain dormant. Like your website, keep it updated and relevant to the audience or customers you want to attract. If you are recruiting, use the job boards, search out potential candidates profiles, their links, comments, posts to get a feel for the person. The chances are they will be doing the same of you.
  • BRANDING: Be on top of your brand, whether it is "ME, INC." or a major named corporation. Monitor what people may be saying about your CEO, HR, executive, management or culture. It may start out as a minor squeak but could erupt into a public relations nightmare. Identify and acknowledge who is responsible for this. You'd be surprised how many people stray off topic in groups to give examples of poor treatment by a professional or company. Encourage your employees to be on Linked In, leverage it for the knowledge it presents, and champion subject matter expertise by participation.
  • INVITATIONS: This is an area I've spoken to colleagues and associates about. It seems many are annoyed by invitations to connect from people "out of the blue" that they don't know. Again, this is something you can control. You can choose to ignore any invitations from parties unknown. I do suggest if you are compelled with the urge to connect with someone - send the invitation with an explanation as to why you would benefit (or better yet how they may) by connecting and exchanging information via posts. Personally, I professionally had my vision and goal to work for a specific company and searched who I perceived the hiring managers would be and sent an invitation. Lo and behold, this is the same company I will start working for at the end of August! I hardly think a company representative is going to blow you off. Everyone in every company is a customer service representative, whether they have it on their title or not!
  • MESSAGES: Theoretically, the only inbound messages you should get are from those that are a connection. However, Linked In offers a paid feature as part of subscription packages called IN-MAIL. The package you subscribe to determines the number of IN-MAIL messages you are allowed -- which are basically unsolicited messages from others. If you are a recruiter, in marketing or a social media advocate, you may have more connections than average. That can also lend itself to a larger number of virtual strangers messaging you.
  • DATING: Linked In is not a dating site. Unfortunately, some boneheads do try to use it as a soft way of introducing themselves and approaching you if you inadvertently accepted the invitation under the umbrella of business networking. I hear ya ... but they can't seem to read the "Married" part of your profile.
  • SOLICITATION: Even if you actively monitor who your contacts are or are selective, you will often find yourself a recipient of a message that solicits (or recommends) a service, software, product or site. Message to senders: This is not a wise way of prospecting, never mind cold calling a complete stranger. Use it as a tool to gather information, not send information.
  • PRIVACY: You go through all that trouble of keeping your information private, being selective on who you network with then BAM! Some nerd (to be polite) sends out a group message and you find your name muddled in with a bunch of other people. Yes, pretty much everyone is shaking their head before X-ing you out of their connections after you disclosed their name. People can look up your connections but be respectful of that information. I advise you stay clear of group messaging. That's not networking anyhow, that is broadcasting. There is an appropriate feature that Linked In offers by telling you that you have a connection within a certain company that you can reach out to and request a referral.
  • GRAMMAR: Some may wonder why I include this ... it should never get too old to continually remind people to check their spelling on their profiles -- you are promotingYOU and who you represent/work for and you owe everyone attention to detail. Even if it is just a comment, ensure that you use proper grammar and check for spelling ... heck, double check the spelling of the person's name if you are going to use it. (I have distinct spelling for my name and it is often misspelled). Run your summary or post through a Word software program and spell check it before uploading is a good idea.
  • CLUTTER: As with any website that has experienced growth, you may have noticed Linked In has a lot going on your page when you visit. It uses intuitive software to predict who, what you should know, what you are interested in reading based on past clicks. There are far more article suggestions now that populate Linked In as they opened up the ability for anyone to post. The choices you make, the clicks you enter, and the time you spend on Linked In is your own individual preference.
  • COMPETITION: There isn't much competition to Linked In on professional social networking, however, they are still competing for your attention while you are online. They will continue to navigate and update thus change is a given. They will continue to tempt you with subscription benefits in order to continue generating a revenue stream. I predict that what you see for free will eventually be eroded or what you want expanded upon charged for.  
  • AUTHORITY: As endorsements continually grow along with the number of people who are writing posts, it may be getting more confusing as to whom really has the authority on a topic. Linked In chooses a number of Followers you have on your Posts, so it is basically a numbers game. (I'm not sure how they do it, but I gather that it is a combination of your network number and how likely people are to read or share your posts and what that additional viewership entails). A higher profile is typically dependent on who you are (i.e. Bill Gates), how many followers you attract, or have the number of comments on your posts will indicate expertise based on those numbers. If you have a post that gains a lot of attention, it could be recommended by Linked In under its PULSE highlights.
  • NEGATIVITY: You can see for yourself in groups or on posts. Sometimes, heated debates erupt or I think some people say silly things to get attention, albeit often negative. You are what you post, comment, write and it is your personal brand that you are impacting. Treat it genuinely and respectfully.
  • MANNERS: Thank you are the two most powerful words in business, social media, Linked In, or anywhere. Be known for your manners. Be honest, be authentic. If someone compliments a post or shares it, thank them. Social media in all its glory boils down to "if you scratch my back, I will scratch your's". There are a number of examples, but one that maybe is not a right or realistic expectation .... if you notice you have a fan who continuously comments, compliments or shares your posts, recognize them by name and say "Thank you". If you can, even read some of their posts and comment or hit like if that is how you feel.
There you have it: the good, the bad and the ugly of Linked In. I'm sure there are a lot a great experiences along with a few nightmares. The bottom line is, it is a great repository of YOUR career information. Think of it as a tool. How well it works for you is how attuned you are.
"I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends."
~Abraham Lincoln


We all have those ah-ha moments.  One came to me this morning when I became irritated by something and itched to tweet and broadcast about it across multiple social media platforms.

However, I had to hold myself back and remind myself that social media to me represents:

  1. A format to learn new and interesting things
  2. A way to share positive news, events, people, innovation
  3. To share the knowledge I have for free
  4. Share inspiration, motivation and knowledge
  5. Support causes near and dear to my heart (i.e. anti-bullying, education, etc.)
  6. Not to use it to express displeasure based on personal experience
  7. Stay clear of controversy 
  8. Be known to be a positive person and influence
  9. Attract positive people and organizations
  10. Promote greatness 
  11. Cheer on Canada and my home city Calgary
  12. Curate beautiful photography, imagery and art
  13. Be an advocate of social media and its ability to inspire positive change
OK, I may have slipped a couple of times.  I'm prone to mistakes like anyone else.  Those mistakes are there to serve as reminders to what my goals are and why I have them.

It did occur to me based on this irritant that people or organizations may be avoiding social media for one very big reason:  Fear of feedback.  Perhaps those who are accustomed to breaking promises, being unprofessional or unpopular conduct may just become targets of dissatisfied customers or people.  

It makes me wonder.  Would some organizations or people avoid social media for that very reason?  On the flip side, if you don't put yourself or your organization how will you know?  After all, we all learn from our mistakes and from feedback.  The more negative the feedback, the more there is to be learned by it ... right?

Certainly I observe a lot of people and companies who use social media to spam (aka broadcast) what they want others to believe about them.  Unfortunately, that perception cannot always be controlled.  I would suggest stop hiding behind excuses as to why you haven't launched your social media program.

Putting yourself out there demonstrates credibility in many ways.  If you are going to put yourself in the game, you have to accept defeat and celebrate success.  Don't expect to only be able to broadcast promos, success, etc.  

Embrace social media as a means to:
  1. Monitor your reputation
  2. Maintain a positive brand (corporate or "YOU, INC."
  3. Develop a positive reputation 
  4. Be known to support a cause, philosophy, innovation, inspiration
  5. Provide knowledge and educate others
  6. Avoid me, me, me
  7. Open doors on new networks, people, organizations
  8. Avoid or minimize negative publicity
  9. Be aware of what others are thinking or saying about you
  10. Show you care
  11. Use it to learn how you can be better
  12. Get the feedback that you may not hearing from your own team
  13. Be proactive rather than reactive
  14. It can drive awareness, generate new leads, create a better brand
I would suggest that you embrace social media.  It is a tool that is free.  Learn how to use it to your advantage, whether it be by learning more about yourself or your company's identity, or developing advocates who want to sing your praises.

Unless you are a celebrity or politician, you can continue to avoid Social Media.  Sadly, you are doing yourself and your company a disservice.  Oh, and don't just set up a page or Twitter account and let it sit dormant.  That is like having a sign "open for business" with the lights off and the doors locked.

Take the time to speak to someone who has developed influence (visit Klout or KRED.com or Linked In).  There are a growing number of professionals who will and can discuss its benefits without you having to sign up or commit to anything.  In fact, there are folks like me, who are willing to curate your content like any other outsourced, sub-contracted relationship.  They will post based on what you guide them to post and create content that can elevate your reputation just by having the right content.  They usually have high KLOUT or KRED scores themselves (these are independent third parties who monitor and provide diagnostics where everyone is on an even playing field and compared based on how credible they are based on topics they have expertise on).

Whew, this has been the best reminder possible.  I am feeling better and using my knowledge for the benefit of others and creating positive vibes.  It is far better than having tweeted or broadcast on Facebook what a *^%&*&# lousy experience I had and how I wished that #*&%*(&# would have reacted better.  After all, it is my reaction that has far reaching ramifications.  Yep, I feel better about myself overall.

More than anything .... I do feel wiser.  And yes, it reminded me of my own personal goals.