Leadership Nudge® 358 – Onboarding: From They to We

July 28, 2021by Sandy Wilmer

Onboarding is about facilitating that emotional transition from feeling like an outsider to feeling like an insider – moving from “they” to “we”. The sooner this happens the sooner the team is more effective. What can you do to help your new folks move from the feeling of “they” to “we”?


Here’s an example of good onboarding. I show up this morning and I’m swimming with a different group than I normally swim with. Never swam with these people before. And I’m going to have to share a lane, which is awkward because it’s better to have a lane by yourself. And you kind of have to stop someone and say, “Hey, can I jump in with you?” 

Anyway, a guy recognized that and recognized I was a new guy, and he said, “hey, yeah, come join the lane with me.” That is great onboarding. He immediately welcomed me to his lane, he welcomed me to the team.  

Onboarding is about moving someone from They to We. Not “they’re the new guy.” That we’re all one team, moving the team’s perspective of the new person and the new person’s perspective of their belonging to the team. That’s the sole purpose of onboarding. I 

t’s not about getting them their computer password, and showing them how to use Microsoft Teams. It’s about that emotional transition from feeling like an outsider to an insider. And the sooner you can do that, the sooner you build trust, and the sooner you’re going to have a more effective team.  

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge. 

Sandy Wilmer