Picture it: It’s your employee's first week at a new job and they want to hit the ground running. Armed with a job description and an org chart, they want get acquainted with their new colleagues. They’re nervous, excited, and eager to prove themselves. But they aren’t sure who to ask about the details of a project and waste a lot of time trying to figure it out for themselves. They finally ask the wrong person only to found out that Marsha—right across from them—had the answer all along. Worse, they step on Tony’s toes by not consulting him before making a decision to contact a new supplier. And he holds a grudge! This is a rocky start with short- and long-term consequences.
The bright side? Much of this guesswork could have been eliminated by onboarding with RACI.
How RACI Helps New Employees Join the Team
It’s hard for people coming into an organization or team to fully understand how their new role fits with those of the rest of the team—the people they need to collaborate with, check in with before making decisions, or those who can help them get up to speed quickly. New hires will learn all this over time, using trial and error. If they’re savvy, they will move cautiously and carefully observe the team dynamics for a while. But this learning process can take months, and they still may offend some key people along the way.
Job descriptions are necessarily general and provide only part of the information that a new hire needs. They don’t show how the new hire relates to the other members of the team or their roles on specific projects. In contrast, RACI charts can easily and clearly show how different roles work together. (Learn more about job descriptions and RACI charts in "Why a RACI Matrix Is Different from a Job Description.")
For example, peers or people on another team may have a lot of experience or may have worked on similar projects and are a great resource. If they have a “C” role on the RACI chart, your new employee knows to seek their opinion before decisions are made. Similarly, if Tony’s going to feel offended if he’s not consulted, you don’t have to get into the politics—just give your new hire a chart that shows Tony’s “C” role clearly.
RACI’s clear and neutral language to discuss responsibilities means that it’s easy for a new hire to digest the complicated workplace dynamics faster, saving time and reducing stress so they can do their best work.
So How Exactly Do You Create a RACI Matrix for a New Employee?
Select six or eight key tasks or decisions from the new hire’s job description. Make sure it’s clear who has the authority to approve decisions (the “A”), with whom the new hire should collaborate (sharing the “R”), and with whom they need to consult (the “C”).
If responsibilities are shared with others, make sure to designate the person with the primary responsibility for the task or decision as “R-Prime” (abbreviated as “R1” or “RP” in a RACI matrix).
Remember that RACI Is a Communication and Negotiation Tool
Make sure the rest of the team agrees with the RACI chart as part of the onboarding process.
Especially if you’re adding a new role, it’s a good idea to discuss the RACI chart with the team beforehand. The rest of the team will be better able to reach out to and help the new hire adjust if they are also clear on the expectations about how they relate.
To get started including a RACI chart when onboarding employees, download our “New Employee RACI Matrix Template,” which is designed to make onboarding with RACI easy and effective.