Comprehensive Onboarding Of Virtual Teams


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White paper from a Human Capital Institute event where I was a panelist.

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Comprehensive Onboarding Of Virtual Teams

  1. 1. Comprehensive OnboardingBeyond Line-of-Sight: IntegratingGlobal and Virtual TeamsHCI White PaperJuly 19, 2007By Ross Jones
  2. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The key answers to these questions include:The marketplace for talent is global, and finding the o Use a common onboarding process for theright person, for the right role, at the right cost are job skills needed for all new hires.key components in the staffing and workforce plan- o Use a targeted onboarding approach forning considerations of many leading companies. those skills needed to be part of specific global orHowever, sometimes the talented person youd like virtual hire may live across town but prefer to work o Focus on the individual learning needs offrom home or you may want to make new talent a new hires.part of a team in which some or all of the members o Leverage existing HR processes into inte-are scattered among different offices and countries. grated global onboarding solutions.The traditional solution of relocating all team o Develop effective methods to evaluate yourmembers to a common place is no longer usually global onboarding at regular intervals.workable - todays top talent often does not want torelocate from their home. Instead, organizations CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR GLOB-are using advances in communication technology AL ONBOARDINGto create global and virtual teams. But this has cre-ated a new problem when it comes to onboarding Onboarding includes all the ways that an organiza-the new hires that will be part of these teams. Does tion helps people navigate their early experiences inyour onboarding program include targeted strate- a new job. As Figure 1 shows, onboarding is one ofgies and tactics to rapidly add and accelerate the three processes that are critical for optimizing newperformance of non-US and virtual staff? hire performance - along with effective talent recruitment and acquisition. Helping new hiresThis paper deals with how organizations onboard- navigate their early experiences essentially meansing program can be customized to fit the needs of providing them with the necessary resources to doglobal and virtual teams. This means moving their job. Some of these resources will be the samebeyond a "one size fits all" onboarding model to one regardless of who the employee is, where they arethat considers global diversity and the particular located, or the team or teams they are on. However,requirements needed to be a successful member of when the talent being onboarded is global, or whena global or virtual team. We will focus on answer- the jobs being done are within a global or virtualing three questions: team, additional resources are needed.1. What are the challenges of onboarding employ- As Mark Walztoni, Managing Director of theees based outside the United States? Center for Effective Leadership Changes, tells us,2. How can organizations help create effective vir- "global onboarding includes both new hire andtual teams? internal staff transitions to new roles." Besides the3. What are leading organizations doing to move type of employee, there are two other importantbeyond the, "one-size-fits all" onboarding model by elements that distinguish onboarding onto a globaltargeting specific onboarding needs? team. One is that both individuals and teams need 2
  3. 3. Figure 1to transition together whenever a new leader or key is to determine how to mix the two types tomember joins the team. As opposed to a team meet the challenges of global onboarding thatmade up of culturally homogenous individuals, a include:global team will include individuals of wide diver-sity, from many different social and business cul- o Using the process to build employeetures. Every time a new person, with their own cul- engagement, instead of simply processing forms.tural outlook, is added to a team, the group dynam- o Dealing with global versus local benefitsics will change. This fact leads directly to the third and payroll - will people hired locally work locallydistinguishing characteristic of global onboarding - as part of virtual teams?the need to use a "targeted onboarding" approach to o Integrating into teams and/or networks -account for individual and team differences. how will individuals fit into a team and makeTargeted onboarding has evolved naturally from the team stronger?"one size fits all" onboarding that evolved from tra- o Blending company culture, business unit,ditional new employee orientation. "One size fits and local culture - will people need local or globalall" onboarding is where an organization provides perspective?the same onboarding program for all new hires,independent of where the office is located or the How the "one size fits all" and targeted onboardingnew hire is from. As Walztoni explains, this process processes are mixed differ among still needed - there are common features of the Much of this variation will depend upon the extentorganization that all employees need to know. The of an organizations use of global talent. This can 3
  4. 4. be seen from an online poll of participants in a July zations global onboarding process. First, it is19, 2007 Human Capital Institute webcast dealing important to determine which new hires needwith onboarding for global and virtual teams. which type of onboarding. New employees whoThirty-three Percent of participants noted that all will interact exclusively with the local office andof their organizations hiring needs were within the local peers will obtain most of the skills andU.S. However, 36% of the participants worked for resources they need through a common, "one sizeorganizations with global hiring needs in which the fits all" approach. However, even for these people,non-U.S. onboarding process was designed by each some customized onboarding should be providedlocal job location. In contrast, 28% of the partici- that focuses on their specific function. The cus-pants organizations Non-U.S. onboarding process tomized onboarding will become even morehas a mix of global and local components, while important for new hires involved in global cross-only 1% worked for global organizations with a functional teams - where both diversity in cultureconsistent global orientation process across coun- and functions need to be considered. And bothtries. According to Walztoni, if global organiza- types of onboarding need an awareness of country-tions want to effectively use global and virtual specific learning, negotiating, and value systems.teams, they need the mix of global and local com- Even an organization with a common processponents that, according to this survey, only a little among all global offices still needs to consider localmore than one-quarter of organizations are using. culture and values when implementing this process in different locations.There are several general solutions to the challengesof improving global onboarding. "Assign account- But how can you deliver a customized onboardingability for integrating new staff into teams and program for all members of a team, when thoseinternal networks," explains Walztoni. When team members may be scattered among severalsomeone feels ownership in the process, and global offices? "Asynchronous delivery of global,responsibility in the outcome, they will be more business unit, functional, and location onboardinginterested in ensuring its success. In addition, modules by HR, manager, technology, and self-Walztoni encourages organizations to leverage study," can be achieved with some of the same com-available communication technology to help build munication tools used to link global team membersteams. Voice mail, email, and video conferencing together, stresses Walztoni. However, even virtualare the basics. However, company websites, teams need some real "face-to-face" time to developGroupWare, and other Intranet solutions should be - both as individuals and as teams. Organizationsused as well to "communicate company culture and need to invest in leadership meetings, as well asenhance work flow." And it is important to remain meetings for people do the same function. Andfocused on the goal of these approaches - to build these links within functional groups can be main-new hire engagement in their work and with their tained by regular conference calls among subjectteam. matter experts. The key is communication - face- to-face when possible and regular virtual meetingsWalztoni goes on to describe several specific at other times.processes that can be incorporated into an organi- 4
  5. 5. A critical part to overcoming global onboarding leader, and team. The organizational-basedchallenges is realizing that the effective onboarding enablers include the creation of robust global func-of team leaders will be critical to the future effec- tions in which teams see themselves as the owner oftiveness of that team. It is very important, especial- the function - a likely cause of improved perform-ly for the make or break first 90 days of a new team, ance. It also means an organization that creates anthat senior leaders accept the teams objectives, as infrastructure that encourages cross-cultural andwell as having a clear idea of their own objectives diversity awareness and negotiating skills acrossfor the team. All key leaders should have and use organizational and cultural boundaries.passports to actively create and strength the links Organizations should also include the right mix ofwithin the global team. Walztoni provides an loose and tight controls of teams - both to ensureexample of a leader of a financial analysis team creativity and ownership of function within thewho, by visiting team members in Japan, became team, as well as accountability to the business goals"energized by their commitment to global onboard- of the" This example also points out the importanceof social onboarding - in many cultures, forging Virtual team leadership skills are also critical forpersonal and social links is a prerequisite to opti- success. "The key competency for these leaders ismizing individual and team performance. And the ability to manage across boundaries," Walztonileaders can most effectively create that link by visit- explains. It is relatively easy to identify the level ofing their various team members. In general, the this skill among team leaders. Low-level skill isonboarding of new global team leaders should present when the leader is only interested in theirenable them to: own particular silo or turf. Moderate level is iden- tified by the ability to collaborate, but not to actual-o Understand the onboarding process and ly share information openly. The top virtual teamonboarding and transition competencies. leaders expect to collaborate and, most important-o Be aware of their personal onboarding ly, initiate action with other people and teams with-strengths and development needs. out explicit authority - they look to network ando Understand the basics of the company, their forge links with others. In addition to developingbusiness unit, role, and expectations. collaboration among teams, top virtual team lead-o Be committed to building strong networks. ers also look to develop social networks and rela-o Be energized by the companys commit- tionships within and among teams. According toment to onboarding, learning and development. Walztoni, these skills can be built into organiza- tions learning and onboarding processes, as well asCHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR built into the job requirements to lead a virtualONBOARDING VIRTUAL TEAMS team.While many global teams are virtual, not all virtual The members of successful virtual teams also needteams are global. And the onboarding of virtual their own core competencies1. As with the organi-teams and team members, whether global or not, zation and the team leader, team members requiremust consider three levels of factors - organization, cross-cultural and diversity awareness to be able to 5
  6. 6. understand and work with people from various cul- successfully adapted the model presented by Johntures and backgrounds. Beyond this, the effective Kotter and Dan Cohen in their 2002 book, Theteam member needs the following skills: Heart of Change, and showed how it could be applied to the entire team. The models 8-stepo Project Management approach starts with building a sense of urgencyo Ability to Balance Work and Personal Time within the team to gain momentum for change ando Use of Technology success, and leads to implementing structures ando Ability to Create and Manage Boundaries functions that will make the changes stick (seeo Resiliency Figures 2 and 3). The important thing is to find and begin using a model for team creation and opera-And all of these organizational, leader, and team tion early in the process - nothing will slow the startmember skills need to be integrated into team mile- of a team more than being faced with a "blank sheetstones and activities that promote and measure suc- of paper" on how the team should function, stress-cess. These include start-up activities such as iden- es Walztoni. And as people move from one teamtifying key organizational and team roles, building to another through their career, they will take andthe team charter, and holding a team-orientation apply the models that worked for them on priorsession. Ongoing team activities should include teams, resulting in the further application andprocesses for adding new team members and for refinement of the most successful models through-recognizing team accomplishments. However, out the organization.according to Walztoni, the most important initialteam activity is to adopt an external or organiza- TARGETED GLOBAL ONBOARDINGtion-based model that will effectively guide theoperation of a virtual team. For example, a task As discussed above, the old "one size fits all"force in India, part of a larger global virtual team, onboarding process still has its place. All newFigure 2 6
  7. 7. Figure 3 to be considered. What are the cultural, ethnic, gender, and age composition of the team? The skills needed by all members of the team will differ according to the answer. And the learning requirements will also depend greatly on the orga- nizational lifecycle stage that a specific team finds itself. Some teams will be part of a start-up initiative requiring intensive manage-employees need a common introduction into their ment. Other teams will be part of a "cash cow"organizations culture and business goals. business unit that is maximized by a more "hands-However, members of global and virtual teams will off " approach. An organization will likely have sev-need onboarding targeted to the specific diversity eral of these lifecycles at the same time - all requir-and functions of their team. Achieving "targeted" ing different types of team leaders and team mem-global onboarding requires organizations to apply bers. The onboarding process must enable teammarketing principles to develop specific learning leaders and members to learn the necessary skillsmodules. The demographics of the team will need for their relevant lifecycle (see Figure 4). Figure 4 7
  8. 8. Targeted onboarding also means focusing on the into a new position within the organization willfunctional role of the person being onboarded - need to master a new set of management and func-whether a new CFO, sales representative, or call tional skills, as well as the industry and lifecyclecenter supervisor. One company did this for a knowledge of their new business unit. For thesenewly hired project manager by sending the person job-specific competencies, the onboarding processto five different global offices to meet with func- should treat transferees and new hires similarly.tional counterparts - an example of "peer coaching" However, the new hires onboarding will need tothat Walztoni recommends as an effective form of include help on building the social relationshipstargeted onboarding. Function-specific onboard- and business networks necessary to be an effectiveing also requires metrics to determine what func- team member. The new hire will also need to learntions, and what level of performance, is needed to about the companys business culture and goals -ensure the success of the organizations business and this can be accomplished through the samestrategy. Only by knowing what the important asynchronous (e.g., web based) learning tools dis-functions and skills are, can they become part of the cussed above.onboarding and learning process. CONCLUSIONA targeted onboarding program also needs to con-sider the transition being made by the onboarded As Figure 5 shows, targeted onboarding is not aperson - both team members and leaders. Is this replacement to the "one size fits all" approach.their first experience being part of or leading a Instead, it should be thought of as a series of indi-global team? Are they coming from or going to vidually tailored learning "satellites" spun off frombeing a functional manager, business manager, the core onboarding content that all employeesgroup manager, or enterprise manager? Knowing need. These satellites, or learning modules, arewhere the person is coming from and where they designed to provide individuals with the specificare going in their career is vital to developing a skills they need for their new function - includinglearning program targeted to their needs. For those their role within a global or virtual team. Andresponsible for the onboarding program, this organizations do not need to start from scratchmeans being able to answer these three questions: when building a targeted process. All organizations have existing HR processes that focus on talent1. How should we assist leaders through each tran- management issues by function, as well as by loca-sition? tion - the global (home office) versus local office2. How do we determine and assess the skills, level (Figure 6). These processes can be adapted asknowledge, abilities for each passage? part of a program that provides the common, glob-3. What general or targeted resources are available al onboarding needed by all employees, and theto support individuals, team, and the company? various local (and function-specific) onboarding needed by each individual. However, the key toFinally, targeted onboarding is for transferees as developing an effective targeted onboardingwell as new hires. The person being transferred process is to start backwards. Determine what is 8
  9. 9. Figure 5 successful performance for a particular job and the skills needed to achieve that perform- ance. Then design a program that develops those skills. And finally, targeted onboard- ing programs need to be evalu- ated like any new business ini- tiative. Metrics need to be developed that measure how well a person has beenFigure 6 onboarded - the bottom line measure of success for the pro- gram. Walztoni recommends surveying global onboarding participants after three inter- vals: 30 days, 90-days, and 180- days (see Figure 7). The surveys can be quick and simple, but needs to measure the three crit- ical success measures of all onboarding - employee engage- ment, productivity, and satisfac- tion.Figure 7 9
  10. 10. MODERATOR1 Mark Walztoni adapted this list from: Deborah L. Duarteand Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Joy KostaStrategies, Tools, and Techniques That Succeed, 3rd Edition, As Director of Talent Development and Leadership2006 (Book and CD). Communities at The Human Capital Institute, Joy brings twenty-five years of experience in multipleBased on the Human Capital Institute webcast, facets of organizational development, humanComprehensive Onboarding Beyond Line-of-Sight: resources and business management with anIntegrating Global and Virtual Teams, July 19, 2007 emphasis in customer satisfaction, service quality, process improvement, and applying the MalcolmPRESENTER Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. As founder and President of Performance Partners inMark Walztoni Health Care, a company dedicated to building bet-Managing Director ter patient experiences, she has authored severalCenter for Effective Leadership Changes curriculums in leadership and staff development,Mark Walztoni has over 25 years of human and co-authored with Harold Bursztajn, MD Seniorresources leadership experience in leading compa- Clinical Faculty member, Harvard Medical School,nies such as American Express, Ernst and Young Building a Treatment Alliance with Patients andLLP, and Thomson in addition to chief human Families.resources officer roles for founding entrepreneursin the professional services and technology sectors. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSHe is a certified executive coach, an internationalspeaker on individual and organizational change This White Paper is made possible by Vurv, spon-for organizations as diverse as Fortune Magazine, sors of HCIs Comprehensive Onboarding Track.the Society of Human Resources Management, theOrganizational Development Network, Benefits ABOUT VURV TECHNOLOGIESManagement Forum, World At Work, and theBaltimore Chamber of Commerce. Mark earned hisgraduate degree in Organizational Psychology atColumbia University. He has been quoted in theWall Street Journal and was the subject of a featurearticle in Computerworld Magazine concerningrecruiting and retaining technologists. He has also Formerly Recruitmax, Vurv Technology has aserved on the boards of several non-profit organi- relentless passion for delivering world-class tech-zations and is currently completing his first book, nology that helps top organizations find, develop"The Alchemy of Effective Leadership Changes - and manage the workforce with unrivaled efficien-How to Transform Yourself, Your Team, and Your cy and success. With solutions for recruitment,Organization". onboarding, performance and compensation man- 10
  11. 11. agement, Vurv helps organizations unlock the cre- - DBMative energy, talent and passion of their people. - DNL GLOBAL, INC. - DOUBLESTAR, INC.ABOUT THE HUMAN CAPITAL INSTITUTE - ECONTINUUM - FIRST ADVANTAGE CO.The Human Capital Institute is a catalyst for inno- - HAY GROUPvative new thinking in talent acquisition, develop- - HCR SOFTWAREment and deployment. Through research and col- - HEWITTlaboration, our programs collect original, creative - HR CONSULTINGideas from a field of top executives and the bright- - HUMAN CAPITAL MAGAZINEest thought leaders in strategic HR and talent man- - HRSMART, INC.agement. Those ideas are then transformed into - HYPERIONmeasurable, real-world strategies that help our - IBMmembers attract and retain the best talent, build a - ILLUMAdiverse, inclusive workplace, and leverage individ- - INSALAual and team performance throughout the enter- - JOBSTER, INC.prise. - JWT EMPLOYMENT COMMUNICATIONS - KELLY SERVICESThe Human Capital Institute gratefully acknowl- - KENEXAedges the financial and volunteer contributions of - LOMINGER LIMITED INC.our Underwriters. They include: - MONSTER CANADA - MENTTIUM CORPORATION- ADP: VIRTUAL EDGE - MONSTER GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS- AIRS - MONSTER.COM- AUTHORIA - MONSTERTRAK- AXIOM CONSULTING PARTNERS - MONSTER JOBS- AXSIUM - MULTI-HEALTH SYSTEMS- BATRUS HOLLWEG INTERNATIONAL - MYBIZOFFICE, INC.- BERNARD HODES GROUP - ORACLE- BEST SOFTWARE - PEOPLECLICK- BROADBOOK TECHNOLOGIES - PLATEAU SYSTEMS LTD- BUCK CONSULTANTS - PREVISOR- CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT - RECRUITMENT AGENCY ASSOCIATION- CENTER FOR TALENT RETENTION - SABA SOFTWARE, INC.- CLEAR PICTURE - SELECTMINDS- CORNERSTONE - SEQUENT, INC.- CORNERSTONE ON DEMAND - SKILLSNET CORPORATION- CUSTOMINSIGHT - SOFTSCAPE 11