Q&A: 30-60-90 days Onboarding plans with Vaasavi Suncol

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This week we’re in conversation with Vaasavi Suncol, People Business Partner & HR Generalist at HackerRank. We talk about 30-60-90 day Onboarding Plans.

The interview is edited for length and clarity.

Q- How Important is it to have a 30-60-90 day plan?

The 30-60-90 day plan is an integral part of employee onboarding, ensuring a smooth transition and integration into the company. This plan needs to be defined for all employees, regardless of their level within the organization. However, as individuals move up the leadership ladder, their onboarding requirements may differ. This discussion explores the importance of consistency in onboarding experiences and documentation for all employees. Additionally, it examines the varying needs and considerations as employees progress through different levels within the organization.

Treating all employees equally:

To ensure a level playing field, it is crucial to provide all new hires with the same onboarding experience and documentation. Every employee, whether a new hire or someone transitioning within the company, may lack knowledge about administrative practices, business operations, tools, and processes. Comprehensive documentation should be made available to every new hire, regardless of their role, to equip them with the necessary information to succeed.

Importance of consistent documentation:

Developing a well-defined and comprehensive onboarding plan, along with consistent documentation, is essential for an effective 30-60-90 day plan. By maintaining the same document template for all employees, organizations can address common challenges and ensure that everyone receives the necessary information and resources.

Q- What are some major objectives we look at and how do goals differ in 30-60-90 day plans?

The onboarding process can be divided into two aspects: the people perspective and the role perspective. The people perspective focuses on the overall onboarding process within the company, including orientation, access to internal resources, and establishing communication channels. The role perspective emphasizes specific tasks, responsibilities, and objectives associated with the employee's position.

First 30 days:

During the initial 30 days, specific skills and objectives should be prioritized. Managers need to define the onboarding process, such as identifying key channels, introducing stakeholders, and setting expectations for the first month. These objectives should align with the company's overall goals and key results (OKRs).

Next 60 days:

Moving into the second phase, which covers the 60-day mark, employees should have a more comprehensive understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This period allows for further skill development and integration into relevant teams or projects. Managers should continue to provide guidance and support, facilitating employee growth and productivity.

Final 90 days:

By the 90-day mark, employees should have a firm grasp of their roles and the company's operations. This phase focuses on refining skills, expanding responsibilities, and achieving more significant goals. Managers can reassess the employee's progress, provide feedback, and support their continued professional development.

Q- How do we transition between different phases?

During the initial 30 days, it is essential to assess certain skills and areas of focus. Managers should define the channels, stakeholders, and key individuals that the new hire should engage with. This period is an opportunity to gauge the employee's adaptation to the company's culture and values, and their ability to seek feedback and communicate proactively.

Transitioning from 30 to 60 Days:

During this stage, the focus shifts to a deeper dive into the employee's specific role and responsibilities. Continuous training and skill development become crucial. It is important to assess how the employee exemplifies the company's values, communicates effectively, assesses themselves, and overcomes any potential blockers. Peer reviews and informal pulse checks can provide valuable insights during this period.

Ownership and Adjustments at the 60-Day Mark:

Around 60 days, employees should begin taking ownership of their roles and aligning themselves with the company's culture. Tracking progress against set objectives and key results (OKRs) becomes important. Managers should observe signs of adjustment and assess whether the employee is a good fit for the organization and their role. Providing support and clear communication channels is vital during this phase.

Tips for Productivity within 90 Days:

To maximize productivity within the first 90 days, certain steps can be taken. Completing paperwork and administrative tasks before onboarding can alleviate unnecessary pressure. Ensuring clarity on role expectations, introducing the new hire to various team members, organizing regular check-ins, and providing points of contact for challenges or issues, all contribute to a smooth and productive transition.

Q- Do these objectives and plans change according to hierarchy?

While company-level onboarding should remain consistent, role-specific onboarding may vary based on hierarchy and position. For example, a new hire straight out of college may benefit from a peer-to-peer mentoring program, which might not be as relevant for someone joining as a VP. Tailoring the onboarding process to each level involves considering the specific needs and expectations associated with different positions. Additionally, providing managers with insights into the overall onboarding experience can enhance their ability to plan and support future hires effectively.

Dealing with Managerial Challenges:

In the event of an employee being a great individual contributor but struggling as a manager, implementing a buddy system can be beneficial. Pairing them with experienced managers, conducting mock-ups, and providing guidance and training can help them develop their managerial skills. The support of supervisors and managers in guiding and supporting the employee is crucial.

Q- How do you move around building relationships and networking whenever somebody new joins in?

A few weeks prior to a new hire's arrival, I ask managers to provide a list of 10 individuals they believe the new hire should meet. Even before the new hire joins, their calendar is already scheduled with meetings for the next week and a half, involving these key individuals. This approach acknowledges that people have different preferences when it comes to introductions—some may prefer quick icebreakers, while others, particularly introverted individuals, may need more personalized interactions. By setting up these meetings in advance, we create a sense of preparedness and eliminate any uncertainty about what lies ahead in the initial weeks. This proactive approach greatly contributes to the new hire's successful integration into the company.

Q- If you had to tell me one practice you have in place that has had the most impact on employee onboarding, what would it be?

Implementing a structured buddy program, where experienced employees proactively engage with new hires, can enhance the onboarding process to a great extent. Personalizing the employee handbook with photos and relevant information, including one-on-one meetings and designations, helps new hires familiarize themselves with their colleagues. Providing accessible documentation and emphasizing support further contributes to a positive onboarding experience.

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