Telecommunications dots

One of the processes I am most proud of defining, developing and delivering during my tenure was the onboarding process. Kudos to my leadership for tossing it my way and allowing me to do it on my own.
Every onboarding activity I did was personalized. Yes, the basics where ‘check-the-box’ simple, but everyone who joined our ranks was an individual and they deserved individual attention.

There are a lot of things that have to be remembered whenever you start something new. Finally, I standardized on converting my checklist to individual notebooks created as the hiring processes proceeded.

This became the new hire’s ‘touch stone’ to be used as a start. This became a shared activity between the new hire and the various team members. Folks who were more adventurous enjoyed doing these activities like a scavenger hunt. Others who were more linear requested more ‘checklists’. That was a lot less fun.

Standardizing the work station provided for each resource went a long ways toward simplifying the time to productivity for each resource we brought in.
Writing the requirements for the ‘work station’ provided really helped set the baseline for the expectations the new hire would be able to perform on the first day.
It is much more difficult to produce a baseline for industry knowledge. Every industry has its own set of facts and history that new hires should be exposed. Pique their curiosity.
We were in the telecommunications industry. We were doing ‘mobile first’ design and delivery, so it really doesn’t hurt understand a little bit about the history of telecommunications. I like to focus on telecommunications in the United States.

I am old. I remember when Ma bell was the only game in town. I remember when it was illegal to own a telephone. My mother was a telephone operator in the 40’s and 50’s. Heck she was downsized by ‘mama bell’ because she chose to follow her husband when they shipped him to Colorado after they shot him with an atomic bomb. But that is a story for another day.

I signed up to produce ‘TPS Reports’ – really

I was recruited.  Actively pursued to take on the responsibility to deliver the onboarding factory for this communications company.

They needed me.  I needed them.  The timing was right, the environment was wrong.

There was a team in place, they needed some organization and leadership.  As a team, we were able to clear the backed-up pipeline in less than ninety days.

What we didn’t know is that we were picking up the wreckage from the previous attempts.  We wound up dissecting the processes and redesigning the delivery directly to the architect of the nightmare, the creator of the out-of-control-pipeline.  This taught me to ask a few more questions before jumping in with both feet.  Test the waters.  Do your homework.  Unless this is a greenfield project there are people attached and somewhere someone is connected to this chaos. Be careful.

This happened so long ago that it is truly a distant memory but the emotions that came running back when I started thinking about what happened were disconcerting.

I really think it is those damages that led me to stay in my next position so long.  Far beyond the expiration date for the role, so it is time to be moving on.

This is the place where I literally produced TPS Reports.  I tried to make jokes about ‘flair’ and ‘red swingline staplers’ but my humor was lost on my fellow cube dwellers.

Natural networker

This week was absolutely crazy, busy.  Nothing like hanging on in the middle of a storm.  This week, I helped bring on a couple of new team members to one of my teams.  I take a lot of pride in my onboarding process and it is really nice when someone truly recognizes the value.

Maybe that is the difference in the onboarding of seasoned folks verses initial entrances into a new career?  The folks who have significant, large organization experience seem to “get it” significantly better than the newer entrants.

Through this week’s experience, I was able to put my finger on another ingredient in my ‘secret sauce’ – networking.  It is all about networking.  The first couple of tasks open the gates to the network, but how those tasks get accomplished is through networking.

One of the guys told me I was a ‘natural networker’ and I took that as high praise and a smidgen of appreciation goes a long way.

Day 2

This has been a week.  This has been a year and it is only March!  Yikes!

Today’s challenges – attempting to convince a corporate IT guy that it is okay to technically break the rules, because my boss said so.  Yea, that went about as far you might think it would or should.  Why do we have all of these processes and procedures if all it takes is a handshake agreement to get a ‘pass’?

I don’t care and none of this would be bothering me if it wasn’t interfering with the rest of my workload!  I am not one of those people sitting on a lackadaisical job here.  The woman who reminds me a minimum of 3 times per week to do a task that I have been doing religiously for almost 5 years – she has a lackadaisical job, but I digress.

These are the things that delay my progress in onboarding a new team member.  I reiterate, my process works as long as you dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s”.  Folks there are no shortcuts.  Every step is there for a reason.  Each task has a prerequisite.  If you skip one or the other, or take a left instead of a right, that will cause a delay in your processing toward productivity.

I digressed again.  I think this is bothering me so much because this delay in processing is really putting a crimp in my week.  If we had followed the process, we would be done.  I would be able to focus on my personal life during my off hours.  But no.  Not this week!  This week, I have to keep noodling on creative ideas to solve this randomly introduced hiccup into the whole process.  What pisses me off!  (Here comes the truest statement I have written in weeks!)  This whole damn thing could have been avoided!  I stated very clearly in August that if we did this option, my process would not only break, but I would not be able to use my secret sauce to get ‘er done.

If I wasn’t already annoyed about the whole chaos step introduced into my world at work, my life gets a nasty wrinkle too.  Guess this is a reminder to care about what is important. We have an appointment to do our taxes tomorrow – that means homework for me tonight.  Then had my nightly family call.  The news is the oncologist will be doing additional research, putting together the history and present it to essentially a board of experts.  We should have treatment recommendations next week at this time.

Yeppers this has been a challenging week.

 

 

My secret sauce?

I have an onboarding process that works.  It is valuable because it gets everyone productive in a very short time frame.  So what is the one way to set me up to fail?  Drop the ball.

I gave them my checklist.  I have been defining, writing, revising, producing the right steps for years.  When I have the time, I use it to keep it updated.  Well, of late, I haven’t had any time to do that because I am already trying to complete an 80 hour per week job in 40 hours as it is, so there isn’t a lot of lull in my schedule that allows me to produce updated tools in one of the most evolutionary environments I have ever experienced!

The interesting part is that even with my checklists, they can’t execute.  The reason my process works is because I do it.  I personalize every encounter.

Why does this have to be done this way and in this order?  Well because I understand the cadence necessary to optimize the transaction.  Maybe it is my old school database theories rising up from deep in my soul, but ultimately I am trying to optimize the employe eXperience for the newest team member.

I need to work in a ‘trusted’ environment again.  When I look back on my career, I realize I was the happiest when I was deep in the belly of the beast and optimizing transactions.  In some way, this has tainted my view of the world.  I see everything I am doing as a transaction to be optimized; so if I can remove roadblocks to completing that transaction, shouldn’t I do everything in my power to do so?

But it is more than that.  In my effort to be effective and efficient, I try to never forget that these are not just messages I am sending about, these are people!  At every step of the way to get the job done it is all about the people and the relationships.  I think I am one step closer to defining my own personal secret sauce!

 

 

New idea for onboarding – Iteration next

Create a blueprint for everything.

Spent the last year proving what establishing a solid foundation could do for improving team efficiencies. There is no arguing, the results speak for themselve.

Now it is time to take it one step further. I need to figure out the steps that will make it easy to develop habits and define what those habits mean.

Guess I will try to ‘hook’ them.

Today – Win Column

We had a new team member begin today.  For me, it is always kind of fun to help someone new start.  Maybe I have been in consulting too long.

Why I like to do on-boarding – I am good at it and it is completely measurable.  Value-Add is measurable.

If I can have someone new up and running, self-sufficient at the end of the first week – that is phenomenal!

It is easy when we bring on someone who has been contracting before – they ‘get’ it.

A new hire cannot be expected to do anything if they can’t access the tools – this includes knowing where they sit and ease of building access.  It is possible, although challenging.

It is so pleasant when the new team member remembers how painful on-boarding can be.

This year started out rough.  The first team member on-boarded after the mighty upheaval in organizational processes was more than a little painful.  It was so bad earlier this year that tears were shed.  That shall not happen again, on my watch.  It was a horrendously painful experience for everyone involved.   Save the drama!  My first goal is to eliminate externally caused drama, whenever possible.

A post-dramatic-event-root-cause-analysis identified plenty of process improvement opportunities for future team changes.

Today’s completely successful ‘one and done’ kind of on-board clearly identifies the value of the process improvements implemented.