Agile Onboarding



onboarding

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As Assistant Director of Online Learning Support at the University of North Florida, I re-tooled and implemented the onboarding process for three positions: Coordinator of Training; Coordinator of Online Learning Support; Online Learning Assistant.

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Rather than following a traditional linear training program (previously hosted in Canvas LMS), new employees are encouraged to progress through a series of  training cards with listed experts on important topics. Cards are marked with dates and priorities -- so as to allow for just enough linearity to encourage progress without creating deadlock. 

  Non-Linear Development   

The purpose of the re-tooling was to create a training plan that would allow new employees to gain knowledge at their own pace while at the same time prevent process roadbloacks from slowing their development. By implementing agile methodologies and using a Planner (kanban board), we were able to onboard new employees at 3x the pace of our traditional methods.

New employees are now encouraged to work on multiple knowledge points at once (visualized as cards), are pointed to specific experts concerning certain topics, and when roadblocks do arise, they are given the opportunity to continue their training in other areas.

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Across various positions, more than 300 individual traing cards were created. Some cards were quite easy (post a hello message on our Team channel), while other were more complex and involved completing a series of steps. Cards could contain files attachements, comments, links to experts, and could be prioritized according to tags or dates.

By moving our onboaring methods entirely online and allowing for flexibility in the paths to expertise, we are also able to account for the challenges of remote work and possible absences due to COVID-19. New employees always have something to learn, always have a gameplan, and if certain cards cannot be completed, others can be  quickly added or edited by management. Many cards could be completed without immediate oversight. 

  Accountability  

One of the biggest challeges we faced by using traditional methods was the tracking of employee progress through the onboarding program. We needed methods to allow management to view employee progress at-a-glace, so that interventions could be staged in our efforts to overcome knowledge roadblocks. By moving the training to an online kanban board, we were able to make use of insight dashboards and data analysis tools in our efforts at streamlining the onboarding process as a whole.

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Mircosoft Planner allowed management to take a holistic approach to employee onboarding while at the same time providing the quantitative data we needed to make informed decisions. Data was presented in graph form via an online dashboard, and could also be downloaded in .CSV format that could later be used in analysis and visualization.

  Holistic But Organized Growth  

The new training program proved so succesful that it was eventually adopted by other teams at the University of North Florida and is now the defacto onboarding process for all new employees at the Center for Instruction and Research Technology.

Moreover, after employees are finished onboarding, having learned how to manage their own trainings and having become familiar with agile / kanban, they are given "development planners" that persist throughout their careers. These "development planners" function similary to the onboarding cards, allowing for better project management and oversight, except that new tasks and projects are added as needed. The same data dashboards from their onboarding allow for the tracking of employee growth while also presenting qualitative data points for informared decision making concerning employee and organizational growth.