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Bart Macdonald

Announcements

Sapling Raises $4 Million to Build the People Management Platform of the Future

On behalf of our entire team, I’m proud to announce that Sapling has raised a $4 million seed round, led by Google’s AI-focused venture fund, Gradient Ventures, with participation from Tuesday CapitalAs reported in TechCrunch, Sapling was founded in response the dramatic shift happening in virtually every organization around the world. Marked by increasingly distributed teams and connected by increasingly digital communications, HR teams are deploying new practices and technologies to give them an edge in attracting, empowering and retaining top talent. To solve for these changes and challenges, Sapling is building the People Management Platform of the future — one focused on empowering People Operations teams with connectivity, data and insights on their global workforce, and driven by AI-powered automation and predictive insights. Since founding Sapling in 2016, we’ve grown our platform from a standalone onboarding solution, to include a comprehensive and customizable suite of HR and employee management tools, delivering astounding value for our amazing portfolio of customers whose teams span across more than 50 countries, including InVision, KAYAK, Digital Ocean, and many more. Raising funding is never an end goal, rather a means towards our ultimate objective: helping our customers transform the way they connect with their employees, and in turn, enabling them to do their best work. To that end, we are grateful for the opportunity to use this funding for ongoing innovation, R&D, and to double down on our award-winning customer success programming and People Ops community building. From all of us here at Sapling, we want to say a big thank you to our community, including our partners, investors, and above all, our customers who have helped make all of this possible and have played a pivotal role in co-designing the future of work with us. We can’t wait to share our next chapter together with you. <a style="text-align: center;" href="/get-demo/">Get Demo</a>

Posted on 
Feb 27, 2019
  by
Bart Macdonald
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Culture & Engagement

11 Things to Avoid When Offboarding an Employee

A vast majority of organizations understand the importance of onboarding a new employee. It’s all part of the effort to get a new hire off to a great start and become as productive as possible, early in their tenure. But what about those employees who’ve given their two-week notice and are on their way out of the organization? Shouldn't there be a process for offboarding them that extends beyond a brief exit interview and farewell lunch? Further, what are some of the biggest mistakes we make when offboarding employees -- and how can we avoid destroying an otherwise golden opportunity?Employees leave organizations for a limitless amount of reasons; some positive, some negative. Many leave because they’ve been offered a chance to grow professionally with another company, earn a higher salary, or relocate to a desired region. Others leave because they didn't quite fit in as expected and need a change of environment in order to succeed. Whatever the case may be, departing employees are worthy of our time as human resource managers. They can be a rich source of information, connections, and objective insight that can be difficult to discover otherwise. Why worry about offboarding employees? In the grand scope of all the duties that human resource professionals have to keep their organizations running smoothly, offboarding employees may not seem like that big of a priority. To expand on the above points, we spend a great deal of time trying to appeal to new hires, making their transition into the company warm and fuzzy. But most employees who are leaving a company experience sort of a cold shove out into the world, without so much as a quick good-luck from an HR person. It can be a rude kick-in-the-behind to someone who has dedicated hard work and loyalty to a company, however brief it may have been for. This needs to stop. Departing employees have just as much value, if not more, to the success of organizations. How, you may ask?• They know a lot about your business, including its clientele and business objectives • They have the ability to share either negative or positive reviews about the company on Glassdoor, hindering or amplifying the success of future hiring programs. • They may encounter your company again in the future if they remain in the industry • They might decide to return to your company in a new employment role• They may or be a great source for new hire referrals in a skills-shortage • They could be your biggest brand ambassadors or even a customer in the futureWith these factors in mind, it’s time to stop making mistakes when it comes to offboarding employees. Here’s what to watch out for: The 11 biggest mistakes made with offboarding employees Whether you are onboarding or offboarding employees, there’s a right way to do it and there’s a wrong way to do it. Try to avoid these mistakes. #1 - Treating the departing employee with disdain. It’s natural to experience mixed feelings when a member of your team expresses the desire to leave the company. But this is not the time to treat him or her with a negative attitude or disrespect. Sadly, employees often become the target of nastiness and ostracism from peers once the word gets out that they are leaving. Heather R. Huhman, Founder and President of Come Recommended and a contributor to Entrepreneur says a negative experience can make former employees turn to social networks to vent, and around one-quarter of job seekers are checking out social media sites to see what others have to say about these employers. #2 - Pilling on training and extra last-minute work. Another mistake that supervisors are guilty of concerns the amount of work that is given to a departing employee. In a rush to get one of their more skilled employees to produce, they pile on extra work. This only adds insult to injury as the departing employee becomes overwhelmed and negative about the whole experience. It’s better to use this time to delegate the work to other capable employees. #3 - Taking the departure overly personal. The shock of hearing about an employee’s decision to leave the company can be sudden. However, it’s a mistake to think a reaction like this will give any satisfactory results. People are adults and they should be treated with respect, not guilted into staying. HR and management need to work together to make sure the employee has a positive departure without all the drama. #4 - Hiring their replacement immediately. Another big mistake that happens in many companies is when the HR team is too quick to hire a replacement, thinking that it’s up to the departing employee to conduct training. This is not only counterproductive, but it places unreasonable burden on the employee who is leaving. In many cases, it just serves to convince the employee that they are being disrespected and it gives them a chance to share this venom with the new hire. #5 - Giving the employee a negative performance review. It can be tempting to look for the faults in an employee who is getting ready to leave for good. This is tied to the emotional response again. But this is a mistake. Instead, draft a kind reference letter and let things go. It’s far better to wish someone well than to make their last few weeks on the job a misery.#6 - Reducing the employee’s capacity to complete work. It may be part of your company’s process to limit the resources that departing employees have access to. From computers and classes to passwords and keys, this can be very disheartening for an employee leaving. There is no need to do this too far in advance. Instead, wait until the employee’s last 24 hours on the job. #7 - Skipping a thorough exit interview. The exit interview is perhaps the only chance you will have to get an honest and open commentary going with the employee. They have nothing left to lose and they are more than eager to share what your company can do better. Never make the mistake of skipping this step or rushing through it. Invite the employee for a private meeting in safem quiet office and use a checklist to go through all the necessary questions. #8 - Not making an offer to stay. Studies have shown that the main reason why employees leave for greener pastures is because they want to earn more money. However, a recent Gallup poll showed that around half of all employees leave because of poor management or problems with their boss. During the time that the employee has given notice, find out if there have been conflicts with the employee’s manager and see what you can do to retain them. Perhaps a small raise or a shift to another department can do the trick? We all know that employee turnover is costly, so why not try to prevent it when possible? #9 - Neglecting to furnish all needed information. Human resources administrators are tasked with making sure that employees have all the information they need when they leave the company. Not having a written termination letter, information about the employee’s final pay and benefits, and instructions for their final week is a big mistake that can cause confusion and upset. Make sure this is prepared in advance in a neat package to hand to the employee on their last week. Sapling’s offboarding solution has helped thousands of employees be successfully, and compliantly, exited from a business. #10 - Not having a system of processing offboarding. As mentioned earlier, it’s just as critical to have a system for onboarding new employees as it is to having one to offboard them. There are proper steps to take, documentation to capture, and resources that can help to reduce the stress experienced by all involved in a well-managed onboarding system. This can be facilitated much like an onboarding program, just in reverse. #11 - Not keeping in touch with former employees. A huge mistake that companies make all the time is neglecting to offer departing employees a chance to stay in touch. This alienates former employees and adds to any negative experience they may have had. Instead, create a LinkedIn employer alumni group and invite all former employees to participate. This can help them to remain connected to the company, share positive insight, and keep abreast of future career opportunities. A social network is easier to monitor and control too, should the former employee choose to vent publicly. Why not try an offboarding solution, like Sapling, and discover the red-carpet employee experience for yourself? {{cta('d05485a5-38f8-444a-8ed9-d2b255459b8f','justifycenter')}}

Posted on 
Jan 30, 2018
  by
Bart Macdonald
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Culture & Engagement

3 Ways to Jumpstart Employee Motivation

Running or managing a company is often stressful. You have to see the business through periods of ups and downs, and you usually have to do it with limited resources. You have plenty to worry about without having to be right on top of your staff every moment. So, how can you ensure that you are getting the most from your employees without needing to breathe down their backs or offering extravagant incentives?In an atmosphere like this, it all comes down to the workplace culture. With a workplace culture that values accountability, respect and integrity, your employees will work hard, take responsibility, and truly commit to the goals of the company. But building this kind of office culture does not happen on its own. You have to build the right kind of relationships between you and your staff in which there is an outlet for performance feedback. You also have to encourage employees to rely on each other, and hold each other accountable. Establish Trust It is true that fear can be a motivator. But fear doesn’t establish the right kind of motivation. When a person is acting out of fear, they are only doing what must be done to avoid consequences and negative reactions. This isn’t a type of motivation that fosters an individual’s commitment to the company or a desire to actually perform well. Instead of trying to intimidate people and use fear as a motivator, it is better to build trust with your employees. Trust is one of the most important factors in accountability, and it promotes motivation in a way that is much more personal to the individual. You want to establish trust between you and your team, and you want to encourage employees to establish trust with each other. Building trust can take time, but open communication can be a good place to start. Ask your team questions to see how they are doing. Get them to talk about their accomplishments, and encourage them to feel good about the progress they have made. Let them share their concerns, and try to help them when you can. It Starts With You If you want to create a workplace culture that is founded on accountability, respect, and integrity, it has to start from the top. Employees will only buy in as far as they see these qualities in their leaders. They might start out in good faith working toward these values, but if they don’t see it reflected in the company’s leadership, the workplace culture will erode over time. To hold other people accountable, you must be willing to hold yourself accountable. Employees respect a leader that is willing to admit when they dropped the ball. If they see you shirking responsibility and evading your own tasks, they will likely follow suit. You also have to make sure goals and expectations are clear. You can’t hold a person accountable for a goal that was not clearly defined. When a new project starts or new responsibilities are handed to an employee, you have to make sure they understand the expectations. Even the best of employees can miss a target if they don’t know what they are aiming for. If you try to be too hard on them under these circumstances, it is going to have a negative impact on their motivation and morale. Instead, provide plenty of instruction and make it clear that you are available for any help and guidance. Highlight the Positives You should avoid the use of punitive measures as much as possible. Fear is not the right kind of motivation, and it can have a negative impact on employee performance. Instead of taking negative actions when employees have failed in some way, try to motivate your staff by giving them their due when they have performed well. This does not mean providing excessive or lavish incentives. Instead, at the end of a tough project acknowledge the hard work they have done. If they have done a good job, let them know. You can even give out small (repeat, small) rewards when people have really exceeded expectations. You might find that there are times when handing out some type of punishment is the only way to go, but it should not be your default strategy. By being positive and supportive, you can motivate your employees to perform better, and that should limit the possibility of negative interactions between you and your staff. When you have open communication in a work environment that promotes the right values, your team is going to be more engaged. They are more likely to show up every day committed to the mission. But the foundation of this workplace culture is going to have to start with you. Hold yourself accountable, build trust with your employees, and keep things positive. This is a guest post by our friends at 15Five.

Posted on 
Oct 16, 2017
  by
Bart Macdonald
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Onboarding

Best Practices for Onboarding Interns

Intern season is upon us! Internships can be a valuable talent pipeline if you treat them as such. Employers are recognizing this resource in today’s increasingly competitive talent market, hiring approximately 5% more interns in 2017 than 2016.In order to identify whether your interns are a good fit for full-time employment, they need to work on real projects and show whether they can lessen the workload for your team members. To do so, interns must be grounded in your company’s essentials. As with your full-time employees, onboarding can make the difference between interns coexisting with your team and truly becoming an integrated, contributing component. There are several critical steps you can take in order to set your intern up for success 1. Establish Clear Goals More often than not, when internships go sideways, the cause is poor planning. Tien Anh Nguyen, VP of finance at OpenView Labs, notes that one of the most important components of a successful internship program is “setting a set of ambitious but realistic goals for each of the interns we hired, and working closely with them to realize these goals over the course of the internship.” So when considering your company’s internship experience, first create a clear vision for the role interns will play. Ask your team leads and yourself: who needs or would benefit from an intern? What type of work would an intern do? Are there projects that could be completed within the time constraints of the internship? Would you consider offering a full-time position after the internship period ends? Nailing down these details before you dive into intern project planning will ensure you funnel resources in the right direction and set the stage for a great intern experience. 2. Communicate Goals & Expectations For some students and graduates, an internship might be their first job ever. So don’t assume they will know when to show up for work, what attire is appropriate, and other company policies. Set explicit expectations up front and communicate these ahead of time with a welcome email. Scott Redfearn, executive vice president of global HR at Protiviti, explains their communication strategy: “Once candidates accept an offer, we begin integrating them right away. During this time, we communicate often through email, webinars, social media, and in person.” This ensures that interns walk in on their first day with a sense of belonging and an understanding of the expectations for them at every level. On the first day, have a new hire orientation session where you relay organizational values, important aspects of the culture, and relevant procedures to be aware of. As you do this, keep in mind that you know your company’s mission, phraseology, and methods inside and out. As Harvard Business Review observes, “Top executives have had years of immersion in the logic and conventions of business, so when they speak abstractly, they are simply summarizing the wealth of concrete data in their heads. But frontline employees, who aren’t privy to the underlying meaning, hear only opaque phrases. As a result, the strategies being touted don’t stick.” So as you go through these “basics” with your intern, do take a step back and make sure you are clearly communicating them. 3. Plan Your Interns’ Experience Before Their First Day While the full-time onboarding process often requires 90 days, that might be the full extent of your intern’s time with your company. That means that everything must be condensed and your intern must adapt to company culture, values, and workload in a fraction of the time.This does not mean that you should skip over the all-important onboarding plan development process. Interns can provide great value to your company above and beyond simply performing menial day-to-day tasks, but only if they are properly folded into your company. Consider planning your intern’s experience before their first day so that you are able to take advantage of every moment they are with you. At Google, the elaborate intern orientation process lasts one and a half weeks. Interns learn how Google’s data centers work, how the company functions inside and out, and what its goals are, all the while meeting other new “Googlers.” One intern recalls, “My first day was amazing…Just in the first week you feel like you’ve been an employee for a year… You get acclimated with the company very quickly.” 4. Get The Obligatory Paperwork Out of the Way In order to make this kind of an impact on your interns at their start, schedule all of your interns’ introductory meetings for the first day and training sessions – which should begin on Day 1 but continue over the course of the summer – ahead of time. While you’re at it, consider scheduling weekly check-in meetings – as they do at Apple – and informational coffee chats with individuals across the organization over the course of the summer so you ensure they get an intimate understanding of the company. Your welcome email can even include an onboarding packet with the first day’s schedule so each intern knows what to expect. Along these lines, take care of as many important details ahead of your intern’s arrival. Is their work area functional and equipped for them to hit the ground running? This will help you avoid wasting valuable time going to IT to get their computer, set up program access, etc. Get the paperwork out of the way and even consider leveraging technology to automate the process so your interns don’t spend their first morning filling out form after form. 5. Make Day One Memorable As Morgan Hoogvelt, director of talent acquisition at Clear Channel Communications says, “There are only two days you really remember on the job—the first day and your last.” While the first day is important for all new hires, it is particularly important for interns. This will be a brand new experience for many interns: their first workplace experience! Additionally, because interns have such a short time to get to know your company, every day matters that much more. Make the day unique and reflective of your workplace. Introduce new employees to everyone on your team (or to everyone company if you have a smaller business). Have at least one assigned buddy take them to lunch. Whatever your strategy, make the goal of day to make your interns feel immediately welcome, comfortable, and part of the team. Jeffrey Luttrell, Director of Talent Acquisition at Alorica, says, “We give our interns welcome bags and treats for the first day. This results in lots of smiles and thank you’s. It is our job to make our candidates feel welcome and appreciated. We need them as much as they need us and we cannot forget that.” 6. Get your Team Involved Email your team to let them know about the intern starting as well as information about their background and what project they’ll be working on. Consider emailing the company as a whole to also inform them of the intern class coming in. Many companies have woven mentorship into their intern and full-time onboarding with great success. Matching interns with younger employees who have recently entered the workforce can be a great pairing, because they can relate more closely to the interns while providing perspective, helping integrate the interns into social networks throughout the organization, and help them see paths and career outcomes. This can be an opportunity for rising stars in your organization to display leadership and developmental abilities. 7. Don’t Forget to Wrap It Up As with your full-time employees, it is critical to ask your interns for feedback at the end of their time with you. This will leave them with the assurance that you value their opinions. It will also provide information to improve both your team and the overarching intern process in the future. Additionally, if an intern does a great job and you want to keep them for a full-time position after they finish school, the most important step you can take to improve intern yield is to make sure they know they have an option working with you before they head back to classes. Make sure to set aside time for an outgoing interview where you can address this question so that you and your intern end the summer the same way you began it: on the same page, with open lines of communication.

Posted on 
Aug 10, 2017
  by
Bart Macdonald
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Onboarding

6 Research-Backed Strategies for Faster Sales Onboarding

Reducing sales onboarding time in order to ramp-up new hires quickly is one of the top goals of sales leaders. According to CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, 45% of leaders surveyed listed time spent onboarding as a top concern: the faster a new sales team member can onboard, the faster they can start making sales.But a faster process doesn’t mean better. Here are six research-backed strategies to speed up your sales team’s onboarding program and simultaneously maintain – or even improve – its effectiveness.Embrace Pre-BoardingIt can be easy to forget about your new hire in the time period between when they sign the contract and their first day. But this phase, often referred to as employee preboarding, is a critical time for you to prepare for your new hires and for your new hires to start getting acquainted with their new team. Google has discovered that when its HR team sends out a reminder email to managers the Sunday before a new hire starts to “nudge” them towards preparing 5 vitally important components to a new employee’s first day, they are able to accelerate the employees’ time-to-productivity by 25%. These five critical components are:Being ready to discuss the new hire’s role and responsibilities Identifying a peer buddy/mentor Preparing introductions to the team and other key figures in the company Scheduling time to check in once a month for the first six months Encouraging open dialogue throughout the onboarding processAdditionally, have all the technology your sales reps will need to do their job set up and ready to go when they arrive. This includes computing equipment, landline and/or mobile phone, email signature, CRM account access, and any other necessary software account access. Consider creating a cheat sheet so the new hire knows where and how to log into each one. There are many ways to make a new employee’s day memorable. “You want to make sure that his first day is memorable in a positive way,” says Grote in an interview with Harvard Business Review. There are many ways to do this. But even the most elaborate first day traditions will fall flat if the basic preparations aren’t made.Provide StructureParticularly in sales, a new hire needs to know job expectations from the start. As part of Texas Instruments’ new hire orientation, the managers sit down with their new employees and walk through the company’s performance appraisal. They use this as a tool to explain how the company views performance and how their work will be measured as well as what they will be held accountable for. LinkedIn, which has become renowned for its commitment to new employees, builds on this by giving all new employees a new hire roadmap. This 90-day plan includes a week-by-week online guide that identifies what they need to learn in order to be more productive and successful during their first month and beyond, including role-specific skills, and intricacies of their role. LinkedIn customizes these roadmaps by department so that each learning plan applies directly to the new employee receiving his/hers.Let new hires tackle huge projects right awayNick Persico, a sales executive with experience at large enterprises like Sysco as well as startups, compares sales training to riding a bike: “You didn’t learn how to ride a bike from your parents telling you about every aspect of how the bike worked. You just got on the bike, fell a bunch of times, and eventually figured it out. Treat new sales hires like they are learning to ride a bike.” Numerous companies are catching on to this approach to get their sales new hires up to speed quickly. Netflix gives new hires the opportunity to be involved in large projects from the get-go. Quora also pushes new hires to tackle a manageable project by the end of their first week. If a full-blown sales call isn’t appropriate for your business in the first couple days, consider integrating mentorship into the process and developing a shadowing program that integrates multiple “stand and deliver” certifications with simulated role play. Having your new reps sit in on everything from prospecting calls to demos to live presentations will give them a feel for what questions customers ask and what concerns they have, etc. The more people they can shadow, the quicker they can see what works and what doesn’t. Daryl Spreiter, Senior Director of Sales Enablement at Salesforce, instituted a sales onboarding process where each new salesperson was asked to sit in on at least five sales calls and document what they observed and learned. They reported who they shadowed, which customer was called, what the purpose of the call was, and the lessons learned from the call. Through this disciplined process, Salesforce.org hired more sales executives and exceeded revenue goals in 2016. Apttus also saw results by instituting a “stand and deliver” onboarding process, decreasing time to first deal for all its sales professionals by more than 50%.Focus on CultureA study of 264 new employees published in the Academy of Management Journal found that the first 90 days of employment is pivotal to building rapport with the company, management and coworkers. When support levels were high from the team and leaders, new hires often had more positive attitudes about their job and worked harder. While the process of instilling your culture through onboarding is important for any new hire, it is particularly important for your sales reps since they will be the face of your brand to the world. If they are passionate about your company and it’s products/services, that will show to potential clients and customers. Zappos feels so strongly about this that it offers employees $2,000 to leave if they don’t think they are the right fit by the end of its five-week course that teaches new hires everything they need to know about company culture and values. While only approximately one percent of new hires have historically taken the money, this shows just how Zappos values culture and fit. It sets the tone for new hires’ careers at the company. Amazon deemed this approach so effective that it adopted its own version, paying employees $5,000 to quit at the end of their onboarding process if they don’t think they are the right fit.Customize Training & Leverage Continuing EducationAs Michel Falcon, founder of Experience Academy, says, "Employee onboarding is the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired. Often, companies confuse onboarding with training. While training does have a role within the onboarding it doesn’t represent the entire scope of the process." One way to include training in the onboarding process without having it be the absolute focus is to develop resources that are readily available for your sales team when they start and even after the formal onboarding process is complete. Without ongoing learning and reinforcement, 50 percent of learned content is not retained within five weeks. And within 90 days, that figure increases to 84 percent. Given that your new hires will learn at new paces and need to continue refreshing their memories as they get up to speed on the many intricacies of sales at your company, providing a rich library of content best practice documents (e.g., how to respond to common lead objections), cold call and voicemail scripts, and modifiable templates for sales emails and email subject lines will go a long way. The more you can do to help your sales reps internalize new information, the faster they will be able to ramp up at their job. In your content library, also consider creating a comprehensive sales onboarding playbook that will provide sales team members with all the information they need to prepare for their job, like product and pricing guides, CRM guidelines, and sales process details. Whenever reps feel unsure or lost during their initial months, they can refer back to the playbook to get some clarity.Coming full-circle to pre-boarding, some companies start this training process from the moment new hires sign their offer letters. David Rudnitsky and Jim Steele – Enterprise Sales leads at InsideSales – crowd-sourced over 20 hours of video pre-work and team exercises that integrated deal wins, customer stories, executive interviews, product demonstrations, top-performer territory plans, and strategic account plans. New sales team members completed the pre-work and continued to work through this content library over the first few weeks on the job with huge results: every seller closed a deal in their first 30 days and generated tens of millions of self-sourced pipeline.Don’t forget to ask for feedbackAs you seek to speed up the onboarding process, don’t forget the power of patience and asking for feedback. It will take time people to learn the ropes, and as Liz Tall, VP of People at Trello, says, “Implementing their feedback gives new team members ownership over the process and demonstrates that their input is valuable…With each new suggestion, we’re able to tweak the system, allowing for new hires to immediately feel like a valuable part of the team.” Interested in accelerating the performance of your sales team? Download Sapling’s Essential Guide to Employee Onboarding Success or schedule a product demo below:

Posted on 
Jul 31, 2017
  by
Bart Macdonald
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