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How Story Can Impact Onboarding

Can you possibly convey all the technical knowledge needed in the first weeks for full performance? Through onboarding? Should you even try?

With departments around the organization using anywhere between 25 and 90 cloud services* and a myriad of possibilities and combinations of technologies that make your organization’s usage and workflow unique, onboarding skills training looks like an endless and daunting task for any new hire.



How can the power of story and mentoring impact onboarding? One character’s story, a powerful moment, from the TV Show West Wing, demonstrates how:

Leo McGarry: This guy’s walking down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep; he can’t get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, “Hey you, can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up “Father, I’m down in this hole, can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. “Hey Joe, it’s me, can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”

An alternative to endless skills training is to focus on fluency and adoption of culture. 40 Seconds, 131 words, 622 characters, can shape the new hire’s approach and the outcome. The power of story can change the mindset of the new hire. Thousands of slides about training, skills and knowledge transfer seem easier when prefaced with a story. Simply throwing information ‘down the hole’ from finance, hr and other areas of the organization will not create the performance or the onboarding outcomes sought.

Onboarding is about paths, fluency, and adoption. Mirror the success you want the new hire to have by showing them ways to navigate the organization. Provide an onboarding coach bridges the knowledge gaps to full performance. Or create an onboarding program that creates fluency by teaching the new hire your language, shows them the value of culture, and invites their ignorant curiosity. The training and performance will come.

Watch the scene from The West Wing (TV Series) Noël (2000)

This is the thinking behind PerStart – bring your organization’s story to the new hire and assist them to reach their first day.*Source: INTERNET TRENDS 2017 Mary Meeker/ Netskope April 2017.