CAPE - the “ikigai” of buiness onboarding | Marshall Shen

CAPE - the "ikigai" of buiness onboarding

CAPE - the "ikigai" of buiness onboarding

The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai embodies the idea of discovering purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life. It is frequently characterized as the convergence of four elements: passion, competence, societal need, and financial viability.

When we join a new company, a successful onboarding experience entails the alignment of four elements: context (comprehending the business context), access (gaining access to needed business operations), productivity (making valuable contributions to the business), and engagement (fostering strong team relationships).

  • Context: understand the business context
  • Access: get access to needed business operations
  • Productivity: make valuable contributions to the business
  • Engagement: foster strong team relationships

Understand Business Context. New employees enter the business with a fresh perspective but limited context. They may wonder what value the business produces and how they can contribute to it. By providing this context, new employees can have meaningful conversations with their leaders and team members, understand the business’s expectations, and align their career goals accordingly.

To provide this context, many companies schedule meetings for new employees to review materials. In addition, new employees undergo compliance training to understand company conduct standards. Personalized self-paced onboarding training can also be beneficial.

To measure the effectiveness of providing this context, an onboarding survey can be conducted to collect feedback on the understanding of context. For example, before the onboarding period, new employees can be asked to rate their understanding of the business (on a scale of 1-5) and the responsibilities of their departments (on a scale of 1-5). The same questions can be asked again after the onboarding period to evaluate any changes in understanding.

Obtain Business Operation Access. This is a common requirement for all businesses - obtaining badge access, computer equipment, software access, etc. Numerous automated solutions are available to assist companies. However, as access needs constantly evolve along with the business, the way a company provides access must also evolve.

To grant access to new employees, businesses develop a workflow to activate their accounts and provide necessary equipment. New employees also require software access, which can be obtained either through manual requests following documentation or through automated processes handled behind the scenes.

To evaluate the effectiveness of providing employee access, we can measure the “time-to-operational-access” - the duration it takes for a new employee to have all necessary access to perform their tasks. For instance, for software engineers, we can measure the number of days it takes for them to open their first pull request or code change.

Maximize Business Contribution through Productivity. New employees often join with a sense of enthusiasm - they are eager to meet new colleagues and make a meaningful impact. However, they may also have concerns about their ability to succeed in a new environment.

A successful onboarding experience ensures that by the end, new employees feel confident in their ability to thrive and have already begun to contribute effectively. One aspect of the onboarding process should prioritize enabling new employees to become productive as quickly as possible. This includes engaging them in tasks that add value to the business, such as updating operational documentation or making minor code adjustments.

To measure the effectiveness of empowering employees to be productive, we can measure the “time to first contribution”: the duration it takes for a new employee to make a tangible impact on the team. For software engineers, this may involve the time it takes for their initial code modification to be merged into production. As such, optimizing the “time to first contribution” should be a key focus in the onboarding process.

Engage with the team. We are all social beings. In a new setting, individuals desire to build connections with their team members, although they may feel uncertain about being accepted or liked in this new environment.

As remote work becomes more prevalent, we must find alternative methods to engage new employees. However, nothing compares to meeting people in person, and organizing company meet-and-greet events is an excellent way to foster connections with others.

A successful onboarding process is crucial to guarantee the success of the business. It consists of four main elements: context, access, productivity, and engagement. When designing a new onboarding process, it is important to be intentional about these aspects.