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Virtual Onboarding - What You Need To Know

I recently reached out to a friend of mine who is three months into his new sales role, in a new industry. He now works for a large organization, is remote, and being on-boarded. I asked,

"What challenges are you facing today, being new to an industry and new to this company?”

It seemed like this question was a welcome breath of fresh air for him, and honestly, his answers not only made me sad, it made me realize he was only one of hundreds of people who feel exactly like this.

To summarize his challenges, I am providing the topic of conversation along with his direct quotes.

Creating bonds with teammates:

My company’s culture is built off the in-office culture. Not being around my teammates has been tough to build relationships and truly understand the company culture as it once was before Covid.

Asking for help:

You can no longer look to your left or right and have a question answered. Starting at any company, you have a lot of questions that are simple but now take sometimes hours and even days to answer depending on the availability of your leadership/peers that day.

Understanding simple operations/processes within the company:

Simple day-to-day operations/processes have become more difficult to understand without seeing them firsthand. It’s one thing to be told how to do it via WebEx, but not to see it done by your teammates/leadership firsthand ... It can take more time to understand a simple process just because you are remote…which then slows not only your day but also your teammates.

Networking with your coworker’s current relationships within your customer base:

A lot of my coworkers have worked within my existing accounts and have built great relationships. Salesforce does not always tell you that. Being in the office, you can learn more about your coworker’s relationships within your accounts by simply shooting the sh*t.

Feel like you are alone:

Regardless of you being on internal team meetings daily. At times, the remote workplace makes you feel like you are working on an island. It can become lonely pretty quickly.

As we wrapped, I gave my buddy some specific recommendations on what to ask from his manager & coworkers in hopes of reducing some of these challenges. And, here are the recommendations I would personally make for his company’s leadership team.

For starters, I would remind them how valuable their new hires are and what turnover can cost if their new hires do not work out. CareerBuilder has shared that, on average, it takes 39 days to fill an open position created by turnover, and the loss of revenue during that time can exceed $100,000 (this was pre-pandemic, so I’m willing to bet it’s even harder to find talent and cost more). I would ask:

  • Are you aware of where your new hires are today and how they feel?

  • Do you risk losing your new hires by not providing what they need to succeed and feel part of the company?

Then, I would recommend focusing on these 4 areas:

1. Agreements Are you still trying to use the agreements you had in place pre-Covid? Just because they worked before does not mean they will work now. As a new hire, do I have any input on my agreements, and would I be able to voice what I need from you (the leader) for success? Give your new hires ownership of their agreements and allow them to feel comfortable sharing what they need.

2. Role Practice Are you providing role practice for new hires? Do you create shadowing opportunities over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx so they can hear how other teammates are making calls, handling objections, and selling the company's value? Fun fact – there are probably 5-10 objections that sales reps commonly hear. Start by creating role practice opportunities around them.

3. Coaching/Feedback How often are you coaching and providing feedback to your new hires? I work with tenured reps who have shared they need 3x more feedback than they did prior to working remotely. I cannot imagine the amount of feedback new hires need/deserve. Are you doing this?

4. Operating Reality Are you continuously putting yourself in their shoes? Ask yourself, "If I was a new hire and received the resources I am giving my new team members currently, would I succeed?”

Working remotely is an ongoing challenge in a multitude of ways. As a leader, you need to ensure your team receives what they need. From providing the necessary tools and skills for the job to coaching opportunities and one-on-one guidance, impactful leaders understand how to develop future leaders. Accomplishing this in a remote environment may seem daunting. Remember, leadership is a skill and the remote workplace is here to stay. Butler Street’s award-winning leadership development and vILT Leadership Effectiveness Program is leading the way. Remote training that is collaborative, engaging, and relevant. If you're interested in learning more, contact us to get started.


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