Thoughts of an evolving leader — what I learned from television series

Today I want to share something I experienced not only since I became a leader, but something which I got more aware of: Passive onboarding and documentation, or— as the title states — What we could learn from television series.

Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

Onboarding is an important topic. With it, a company is laying the groundwork for future collaboration with its employees. Over the years of my career, I have experienced good and bad onboardings. I have had to onboard colleagues myself and even design onboarding processes quite recently. So, I feel quite confident to talk about the topic today.

What’s onboarding?

I do not want to go into scientific definitions, or deep understanding of the term here. I just want to make sure we talk about the same things:

I am talking about onboarding wherever I have to learn something new to understand something I am supposed to do in the near future. This could either be the most commonly used onboarding onto a new job, the onboarding onto a new project which you will be working on, or even small stuff, like joining a meeting series and being onboarded onto why and how these meetings are conducted.

I always feel, when I am reading this definition or the examples, like the process of onboarding is already clearly describing what it is: An investment. You put something in (time and mentorship) to get higher and better outcome in the end. As we are talking about a business world, we want to have an as high as possible return on invest, right? So, this either means: Reduce the initial costs and increase the chance that the invest makes a higher outcome. In other words: Efficiency.

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Efficient onboarding

Now I do not want to go too much into depth about the big onboarding processes for the start of a new job or a new department but talk about what I call “micro-onboarding”. These are situations where you might experience micro-onboardings:

  • Joining late to a meeting
  • Joining a preexisting series of meetings or workshops
  • Joining a chat or group discussion
  • Having a meeting with a crowd instead of individuals

In these situations, the moderator or owner of the events or discussions, wants to give the newbies the chance to join the working force instead of just listening in as a bystander. What I experience oftentimes is either no onboarding at all and people being lost, or a very extensive onboarding, which takes a lot of time from the participants who do not need to be onboarded. I personally was more probable to be part of the first group until I put my focus to this topic. Now if I notice a situation where I have to micro-onboard somebody arising, I ask myself one little question:

What happened so far?

I wouldn’t say this is somewhat of a big reveal or idea, but I noticed the convenience when jumping into television series my wife was streaming for a longer time already: At the start of each new episode, you get a little wrap-up on what things that are important for this episode happened in previous ones.
This was the important little detail: “…things that are important for this episode…”. They do not just summarize the whole plot, but rather look onto what will be happening this episode and bring the viewer up to speed on important plot lines for exactly this upcoming content. This is what I think we can learn from. Instead of always summarizing everything, start meetings where you do not know who knows what, with a little summary on exactly the topics important for the goal of the meeting.
Obviously, this requires you to know what the upcoming meeting is all about, but that is a topic for another day. Till then…

Marc out.

Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash

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Marc Emmanuel

My thoughts and stories on the leadership world and how I experience them in my current leadership role @virtualidentityag (https://www.virtual-identity.com/)