No Onboarding

with Pete Thornton,

Customer Teams Enablement Manager, Postman

Why would you refer to your company’s enablement as “new hire ramp” instead of onboarding? What is “new hire ramp” anyway? From Postman’s very own head of enablement, here is what you need to know about new hire ramp and why three reasons you should pursue it over onboarding.
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Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • The birth of new hire ramp (1:01)
  • 1 – Onboarding is outdated (3:37)
  • 2 – Onboarding refers to compliance (5:28)
  • 3 – Onboarding is a one size fits all program (6:44)
  • Defining the new hire ramp solution (8:32)
  • 1 – The systems (9:10)
  • 2 – The services (9:49)
  • 3 – The software (10:32)


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Pete Thornton 0:06
Absolutely and unconditionally: no onboarding. Hey, welcome to The SaaS Ramp Podcast. I’m your host, Podcast Pete Thornton. A reminder, I work in enablement, enablement lead at Postman API lifecycle management platform. And I lead the enablement team, we actually have two teams, sub-teams within the enablement team known as onboarding and ongoing, so I use this term, but I need it to mean something else. Okay, we actually changed those names to the Center of Excellence for the new hire ramp programs because we stretched it across so many roles that was asked to be brought globally. And when I say globally, I don’t just mean around the globe. That’s obvious. Half of Postman is in India, half a Postman is in the United States, between Bangalore, San Francisco, but then also meaning from sales all the way back to engineering. We’ve done role-based pilots with engineering as well. So that’s the center of excellence. And we have continuous enablement as the other side.

But onboarding. Don’t like the term at all. Old, corporate, one size fits all, worn out in-person onboarding. That’s what it has come to mean for me. There are various terms that you’ll hear onboarding in, but it’s typically meant as a new hire ramp, and however your company handles new hire ramp, they’ll just frequently say, “onboarding.”

So the reason this came about ultimately came about was because our CEO of Arb sent out a book, as he often does to employees, and it’s called Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. something he was thinking about because of postman’s position as the API lifecycle management platform, it created a category that was by design. And so he just asked everybody to read it understand what we’re doing well, you can’t help but think about your own function, your business within the business, whenever you’re thinking whenever you’re reading a book like this. And so when I was thinking about what this book said, about Marc Benioff and the creation of Salesforce, it really struck a chord.

So what Marc Benioff did that was it was incredibly brilliant marketing technique when he was up against Siebel CRM, the more on-premise, older version of CRM, this is back in 2000, maybe like 2001. So we’re talking 20 years ago. So what he did was he went around branding and marketing, no software, and it had this big circle, if you’ll remember, with a slash through software. Well, I mean, it saps its software as a service. So it is software, but it’s not that kind of software. It was a new category that he was creating, as opposed to being a little bit better than Siebel, he was being something different than Siebel altogether. And I just thought that was like, Man, that is brilliant. So I was like, Well, what is it that we’re doing that I think is different? And so what we do at Postman that’s different is we do new hire ramp, I was already referring to it as new hire ramp, but I was trying to question, why would I refer to it as new hire ramp instead of onboarding? And then I really dug in, I totally, totally understood.

So let me go through the three reasons that new hire ramp and what I would suggest you would do within your hypergrowth organization, whether you’re having to create it yourself, or whether you’re launching an enablement function, with all the pieces, the tools and the team that you need to build there, I would recommend new hire ramp instead of onboarding for these reasons.

First, traditionally speaking, onboarding is an older, in-person version of new hire ramp. And it’s strictly because of the changes we’ve seen, first of all, your field, your field, go to market teams, they traditionally were remote anyway. So you’re headquartered in San Francisco, but you need somebody to cover New York, you need somebody to cover Boston, there’s Atlanta, there’s Dallas, coming over here, like, how are you going to have them? Well, they were going to be they’re going to be new hires, you fly them out, they would come in, they kind of like get together with everybody, you’d lead them through some form of onboarding, you might have him for a week or two, everybody called it a boot camp, you can still call it a boot camp, but you were flying them out and giving them this little snapshot. Well, that’s not how everybody learns, that’s going to be a longer trajectory. Over time, they would go away and what I would typically see is that the remote field reps did not have access frequently to the headquarters we’re about six months behind in their understanding of the systems, the processes, the product because they weren’t gathering these things from osmosis. So we needed a different solution even then, but certainly now that SaaS has moved forward remote versus a very real thing. Everything about postman is remote. First, we have hubs, you can move into those hubs, but the COVID and pandemic was just put a nail in this coffin, so to speak. It was already a reality and then it became just the reality. So there will be offices that open back, it will be welcomed in a lot of cases I’m missing office, however, it’s just not ever going to move back to what it is. This is software, why would it? So that’s a traditional sense, this is going to be digital, it is going to be remote first. And that digital experience is now the new hire the first week, the second week, the month New Hire experience. So that’s new hire ramp as opposed to onboarding.

Secondly, onboarding refers to compliance. Compliance and compliance is it’s, it’s, you have to do it. And so let’s talk about have to versus want to have to, in HR terms means like, it would be like sexual harassment training, like you need to take this train. And it’s very real, it’s very important. However, that is not moving the needle on having somebody into a role-based outcome, right, this is just something that has to get done. So for me to offer something that is called the same thing as what HR is offering. It’s a misnomer, it obviously is a different category. So that’s on the HR side of things. Secondarily, it has provisioning of tools, or maybe there’s like security compliance, you’re going to have to take the security training, again, that is referred to as it onboarding these, that’s what it will say on those calendar invites 99% of the time. So this is not it. Onboarding, this is not one meeting, where you’re asking people to click buttons, follow up on this little software piece and how to do by the end of the week, this is a very different thing altogether, right, I’m sure we can agree on that piece.

And lastly, this is the third piece here. And I’ll kind of offer the solution, what I would say would be the solution to this and why it is an entirely new category (new hire ramp) as opposed to onboarding. The third reason is because it simply does not drive to role-based outcomes whatsoever. It just does not. Onboarding is going to be a one size fits all program that people can come into, get experiences with the company, get your dental benefits, I use that as my example every single time your medical, your health insurance, or whatever it happens to understand the PTO schedule. There are some really cool things about it. We pick up three books at Postman. When we start, we get the swag in the mail, things like that show up. What do you do after you get your swag and after you get your benefits and after you take your cool picture and you post it to LinkedIn, ‘Day one at my new company!’ You don’t know what to do after that. You’ll have a manager one-on-one, right? And then what? Then it’s up to you. And that’s onboarding. Okay. But new hire ramp, there’s a welcome mat. There’s a red carpet rolled out. You’re gonna come in and it’s going to be based on your actual outcomes you’re driving. And in new hire ramp, that is the most important part of it: what are the results that you’re gonna drive? We always have a north star goal. We always have three to five outcomes that are being driven for that role. Is it strategic sales? Is it enterprise sales? Is it mid-market or inside sales? Is it business development? Is it enterprise or scale customer success? Is it renewals? Whatever it happens to be, there’s going to be very specific outcomes and there’s going to be specific milestones. The questions that you answer along the road to trying to execute on those outcomes, that is new hire ramp.

So onboarding: old, corporately feel, in-person, one size fits all, compliance-based. New hire ramp—I don’t even want to use it the same sentence—but we are new hire ramp. This is my definition of a category of new hire ramp. This is what we utilize at Postman. New Hire ramp, or what we’re calling the Center of Excellence is a new hire ramp creation studio that fuses systems, software and services to accelerate time to job done by 45 days. So let me unpack that when this is the new hire ramp solution. This is the new category, the new way of doing it the way that I would recommend to you, if this were all available in a software, I would call it a results experience platform or success experience platform like a way to actually have this all at once. But it actually takes three pieces.

So the systems. The systems or the playbooks by which you actually create this program. If you’re going to have it be role-based and you are going to function with multiple roles within an organization, you’re going to need a way to develop that. We have four subsets of a team we call them launch, boost orbit and Supernova that’s based on the Postman not theme. And that is how we actually go in gather the rolls, gather the content, certification, maintain and improve them over time and have cohort leads lead these through step by step. That’s what we did. That’s the system also the playbooks that come with it or the playbooks that each individual team has. Those are the things that we maintain to our continuous enablement program.

Secondly, the services. Services are the people. These are the people that actually create and maintain this content over time that are the virtual instructor-led trainers. These are the people who are doing it in this digital sense. Just because it’s no longer in person does not mean that it does not take people headcount to maintain these things. In fact, it could be argued to take them much more, not so much because it’s digital or virtual or remote instead of in person, but because of the fact that it’s for so many different roles, we’re being role-based. We’re not just saying, Welcome to the company, here’s your company, 101. We’re saying welcome to your specific team. And here’s the outcomes we’re driving. So that takes more specificity.

And lastly, software. So if we’re not doing it in-person, and we’re not like saying, like, Hey, here’s your fill in the blank. We’re not giving them paper to do this on. And we’re giving them excellent MacBook Pros and like super cool like sleek software pieces, then if that’s the case, we’re going to have to have the software and there’s multiple software’s that we utilize. If we’re talking strictly about new hire ramp, we might just be talking about the learning management system, combine those, and you have a new hire ramp creation studio.

The last piece about that is that we can accelerate time to job done by 45 days. There is a benchmark that is typically associated with onboarding that’s around 90 days or 180 days. These are the two numbers you’ll always hear. 90 days in onboarding is for one main reason. And the one main reason for that is it is easier to find fit or not fit, firing or not firing at day 90. Okay, so if we have day 89 easier to find a fit day 90, not so much. That is fine because that is necessary. However, that is not going from day one to job done that doesn’t have anything to do with the new hire trying to attain a successful outcome. So what we focus on since we don’t sit in people ops or hrs, we focus on those specific outcomes those jobs done. And that’s how we’re able to able to derive the amount of time it takes for new hire ramp. So we find that we can, whether it’s 90 days, truly 90 days, or 180, we find that we can take at least 45 days off of that. So that’s our value proposition for the organization.

Okay, so if you’d like to check out that book, it was Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. I thought that was really fascinating. I thought it was very, very cool. And like you can think about it for your own. And then consider is your ramp program. If it exists, is it one size fits all? Is it for compliance? Or is it for role-based successful outcomes? And is it built for an in-person like is it brought from your previous organization? You say, Oh, we’ll just use this here. And is it architected actually, for an in-person experience is architected for the new digital interface, the way that everyone experiences their jobs now. Consider those things when you’re thinking it through. And don’t forget, onboarding, old corporate one size fits all. Traditionally in-person experience, new hire ramp, ooh, that is remote. It is rapid. It is successfully driven or results driven. And that is a new way that I’m suggesting you go too.

Disagree send me some comments love to hear about I’m always looking to learn something new in SaaS, hypergrowth, and enablement communities.