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Cut Your Time to Productivity in Half with Better On-Boarding

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But when I arrive at HubSpot’s reception desk, something weird happens: Nobody is expecting me.Dan Lyons, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

Do you want your team to be productive quickly? Fix your on-boarding process and you’ll achieve productivity in record time.

They say it takes 6 months for a new employee to become productive. Some of that time is to be expected but a lot of that wasted time is because there’s so much company-specific knowledge needed to be effective.

And perhaps most of it is because everyone is just so damn disorganized.

A product manager joined a new company. On her first day, the receptionist couldn’t find her information and didn’t know where she was supposed to sit. The new product manager was put in a temporary space with a guest access to the network. Good thing she brought her own computer because she wasn’t given one. Not a good way to start a new job. A terrible first experience.

Apparently, this is the new normal.

Dan Lyons wrote in Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble:

But when I arrive at HubSpot’s reception desk, something weird happens: Nobody is expecting me. The receptionist, Penny, who could pass for a high school student, has no idea who I am or why I’m here. She frowns and looks me up on her computer: nothing. This seems odd. I wasn’t expecting a brass band and balloons, but I did assume that someone, presumably my boss, would be there to meet me on my first day at work.

“Nobody is expecting me.” How does that make a new employee feel?

In another example, a new product marketing manager showed up for work and was told, “There’s a lot of good stuff on the g-drive.” She found random files including links to web pages, PDFs and Office docs. Just general confusion. What are the products? Where is the positioning? What are the campaigns? What do you want me to promote?

In her next job (which she got very quickly), she was greeted by a welcome sign in the lobby. Her office was ready: her name placard was already put up and the office was equipped with a computer, phone, sticky notes, pens, and pads. Plus, a coffee mug and a hoodie with the company logo. (Oh, and it had a good chair.) It was like they were expecting her. Because they were.

What can you do?

Look at on-boarding from the new employee’s point of view. (If it helps, think of it as the buyer’s journey.) What are the relevant processes and people and products? Are these documented? What do I need to know to be successful here?

Each department needs a playbook with everything related to the role, the products, and the company.

For product managers, the Under10 Playbook is the one source for everything about the product. Under10 Playbook is a combination of method, software, and skills workshops, customized for your business.

Here are some specific on-boarding tips.

Products, portfolio, and company. Most companies have a strategy presentation—even a sales presentation should work—that explains the product portfolio and plans. Whether it’s a slide deck or a webinar, ensure new team members understand what you have now and what you’re working on.

Processes. Fewer than 50% of companies have a documented idea-to-market process so explaining your internal methods is often difficult. A retrospective on a recent delivery, particularly the development and marketing aspects, will give insights to a new employee on how things are done at your firm. Our Under10 method might be a good fit for your team—it’s a simple approach for a nimble product life cycle process. Read about it in our new book, Turn Ideas Into Products, available from Amazon. Go to to learn more.

Areas of expertise. There are four types of expertise found in product management: business, markets, technology, and domain. Evaluate new team members’ knowledge in each area and develop a plan to strengthen those areas for a well-rounded team. For more, get our free ebook, Expertise in Product Management.


It takes months to find an employee and more months to get him or her productive. Executives should spend less time in daily operations and more time on process and strategy. Getting new employees up to speed quickly is a key element of leadership. Be sure to work on the business, not just in the business.

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