Learning and change are two necessary components of a lean company’s onboarding process for a new employee.

If lean learning is defined as an ongoing journey toward personal and professional improvement, then every new employee will soon be familiar with the adage that “at the end of every success is another obstacle waiting to be perceived as yet another learning opportunity.”

Change, or the ability to pull yourself out of your comfort zone to reflect on each of the company’s procedures even when no problems may be currently apparent, is integral to lean learning.

“The continuous improvement mentality is critical for sustainability; employees must be empowered to challenge and continue looking for ways to improve and make their processes better,” writes business consultant Mercibel Gonzalez in a blog article about lean learning and change.

“Training and having a client immersed in the whole process is critical to start shifting the mentality towards continuous improvement,” states Gonzalez. “Our work as consultants is just the start of the change chain. There are always forces of change in action… so to remain competitive clients need to adapt and continue evolving.

“As part of our work we teach and train the operation on lean concept application,” says Gonzalez. “Giving them the background and knowledge of concepts and tools is a critical piece of the pilot and implementation phases. It helps us explain (and then understand) why we disrupted their routines, processes and sometimes even their physical space; and enables us to speak the same lean language.”

Implementation of the lean “pull” rather than “push” technique of indoctrination ensures that new employees learn the right information necessary for the moment. Social learning is also a critical part of the onboarding process. New employees learn from their peers, who become their experts.

Likewise, when change is necessary, both the internal instructor and new employee pool their learning resources and problem-solve together. Ongoing performance and support through recording and sharing remove some of the inevitable discomfort in adapting new methods or acclimating to a new company system. This approach to onboarding also invites new employees and staff members to participate in both the learning and change process. The learner becomes a part of the change by participating specifically in those aspects that pertain to their own needs.

Immersion in the process of change contributes to enrichment of the company’s lean culture and environment. This approach to onboarding sets the stage for ongoing learning and change.

What are your company’s requirements for learning and change in relation to its onboarding process? Has this process has been articulated or formalized? In order to become effective organizational leaders and members, how do your new managers and staff members acquire their knowledge, skills and behaviors?