Onboarding: I’m Not Your Circus Animal

Hula Hoop by Daddy Yankee
“Jumping through the hoops”

I understand the necessity of onboarding newcomers to an organization – whether a non-profit church or ministry, a for-profit business, or an education program. In fact, I am specifically trained as an instructional designer (learning experience designer) to custom develop these onboarding programs.

However, my issue is that there has been no accommodation made to credit newcomers with prior experience and training. Instead, all newcomers are expected to begin at the same entry point, regardless of their levels of experience and training, and then they are all funneled through the onboarding program as uniformly as possible.


There needs to be a condensed version of the onboarding training program for those who aren’t entirely new to the content, just to the organization. You know, personalized learning pathways, with different pacing, access choices, and levels of competency and completion? How about a self-paced, untimed, open-sequenced curation of microlearning tutorials with badges or certificates for completion?


Here’s an example.

My husband is a disabled military veteran. When he was active duty, we traveled and therefore had to change churches. We weren’t church hopping in a consumerism sense, we were just relocating. This happens every time we’ve had to move as private citizens as well. We like to live in the same city of the church we attend. So, we’ve been through an endless repetition of onboarding programs, some short, some very lengthy, but all with the goal of making sure we’re all on the same page.


But we’re exhausted from this constant return to “zero” and never moving forward to where we were before we ever relocated the first time. How many times can someone be expected to repeat from the beginning? It’s all the same hoops, different organizations. Can we test out? Can we show evidence some other way? Can you really get to know us before you shove us into your menu of classes and programs? Can you assume we’re just new to your organization and not new to the content? Do you even know our faith story and how long we’ve been in the faith? It’s like making grandparents repeat Kindergarten just because they moved into a different house.

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