Posts Tagged ‘on-boarding’

Way back over a decade ago, when I was still working with a vendor company, we ended up involved in a project that started taking on water and sinking fast.

The main reason why? Company failure to effectively on-board a new training manager.

This high-profile, pre-launch project was not with some small-time startup pharma. It was with a division of a major drug company. And there was a perfect storm of circumstances that propelled this project toward disaster.

This learning system initiative was begun with one trainer heading up this department, who then was cycled to a new position. A new trainer was brought on board from the field, who had no prior experience in training.

Or managing projects.

Or working with vendors.

And whose on-boarding (if there was any) didn’t even include awareness of the headquarters Medical/Legal/Regulatory review process!

Rough waters? Oh, it gets worse.

This drug was a co-promote with a startup that had never commercialized a product before, but which had its say in any kind of training and messaging to be developed!

Needless to say, this effort devolved into a navigational nightmare. It was not at all clear how were going to arrive at a safe destination.

Perhaps it was a mercy that the drug was ultimately not approved by the FDA.

Many vendor/partners have similar stories they can tell. A lack of best practices in project and vendor management can lead to very expensive mistakes and inefficiencies.


While there are many lessons to be learned from this incident, one of the key ones for me was: companies need to quickly and pro-actively on-board their trainers with the skills and knowledge needed for their new set of responsibilities. This is a relatively small up-front investment with a huge ROI in role effectiveness.

I never forgot how disruptive the incomplete on-boarding training was to to this overwhelmed trainer as he faced a bunch of unfamiliar challenges. In fact, it was one of the incidents that led me to eventually develop the Impactiviti Project/Vendor Management workshop for life sciences trainers, which we’ve delivered for many training departments over the past years.

Costly disasters like this one are preventable. Contact Steve Woodruff at Impactiviti (973-947-7429; AskSteve@impactiviti.com) to discuss best practices in on-boarding your trainers, including the annual subscription to our Project/Vendor Management course (also available this spring in on-demand format!)

ALSO: Five Compelling Reasons to Provide Project Management Training


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I’ve talked to lots of professionals over the years about on-boarding new colleagues (particularly, training managers and brand managers).

There are commonly a couple of holes. Maybe you can think of others beside the two I’ll mention below:

1. Project/Vendor Management – this is such a huge lack that I give in-house workshops (see outline) to help new (and not-so-new) training managers learn best practices. Since these new hires typically come out of the field, they have no background and skills in this important area – and tend to learn by the costly trial-and-error method. The consequences are often quite disruptive, both to the department and to vendor/partners. In fact, I’ll be starting to give these as public workshops (4x/year) in conjunction with SPBT in the fall.

2. Brand Manager Launch – there are whole new sets of skills and practices needed for those who move over to the marketing side, and again, one of the common methods of on-boarding is a shove into the deep end of the pool. It can take 2 years to get someone competent in the basic skills – what if that could be dramatically reduced by a focused on-boarding/mentoring program for the first few months? I’ve recently helped a uniquely qualified consultant design such a business model because this is such a vast, and unmet, need.

What are some other on-boarding needs that you’re identified? I’m all ears (stevew at impactiviti dot com) – one of my goals is to keep finding gaps like this and providing solutions. Having a network where we share ideas and make targeted recommendations is our best way to elevate all of our professional endeavors!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

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All Aboard!

Attended a local ASTD (Mid-NJ chapter) last night, which was on the topic of On-Boarding. Scott Mason of BlessingWhite gave a very interesting talk, which was peppered with all kinds of audience involvement – this was clearly a hot topic for folks in the audience.

Having worked deeply with one client on a revamp of the initial sales training process (touching also on Orientation/On-Boarding), I found the talk to be very on-target. Scott identified 4 elements to a good on-boarding process:

  • The Basics – the organization, HR stuff, basic overview of functional matters
  • The Affirmation – good first impressions, fun, meeting executives, network-building
  • The Fit – mission/culture of the organization, where this role “fits” overall, job-specific info
  • The Job – manager/employee relationship, alignment of goals/strategy, rapid learning curve to productivity

One of the major points was the dollars-and-sense importance of making those initial days as positive and constructive as possible, since a great start is an important factor in productivity and retention. Good stuff!

(for those of you in the NJ area, I should mention that I have now transitioned out of my former role as VP Communications with the Mid-NJ chapter, handing it off to a very dynamic replacement who will serve on the board and continue to move things forward. It’s been an honor to work with the Mid-NJ team over the past couple of years).

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