In this episode, Josh takes an in-depth look at what a navigator program is, and how these programs can impact employee onboarding.

Building a Navigator Program for Employee Onboarding

[00:03] Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Entrepreneur Organization ( EO ) Navigator Program

Josh: [00:16] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcasting space. The topic for today is “Building a Navigator Program”.

So what is a navigator program? What does that mean? Well, there are lots of different words for it, but what I am going to highlight is a program that we use in the entrepreneur organization that I’m in. I mentioned that a few times; it’s called EO, Entrepreneur Organization, and I was the membership chair for two years and we built really strong onboarding processes around making people feel welcome as new members because a lot of these members in EO build very tight bonds and when a new member comes in, we need to get them integrated in with everybody else. So let me take a moment just to explain the concept of the navigator program.

New Members

[01:10] Anytime a new member would join, we would pair them up with a member that had been in the organization for a very long period of time or a good period of time that was well connected. This navigator was a natural connector, networker and that knew a lot of people in the organization. What we would do in this program is we would match them up and the expectation for the navigator was that this navigator would call them, learn a little bit about their business, this entrepreneur’s business, and make other connections that they thought would be helpful so they would introduce them to other members. The next thing that they would do is they would coordinate or they would call them in order to ask if they’re going to events.

EO has lots of educational events and other fun events that we do and in that, this navigator would call them and say, “Hey, are you going to this event next week? I’m going to be there. Love to connect with you and help you meet some people while you’re there.” Now this had a couple of different positive effects. First of all, by asking somebody if they were going – a lot of times they would get things like, “Oh, well I didn’t even think about the event,” or “I hadn’t heard about it yet” – it would encourage them to then sign up and on top of signing up, they knew that when they showed up to that event, they wouldn’t be the odd new member out.

Making Introductions

[02:28] They would have this navigator beside them, making introductions, helping them navigate through, meeting everybody in the organization and then really getting integrated into the organization with everybody else. So there’s this concept of this navigator and what I really liked about this program and what I started thinking into is how can we use this within our organization? How can we build these navigator systems, these buddy systems, whatever you want to brand it as, in order to help a new employee feel integrated into the process?

Because we have to keep in mind, some people are more introverted and extroverted than others. Some are going to naturally go out and find new friends and meet new people within your organization, others are perfectly happy to sit at their desk and do their thing and they’re just going to do their work and maybe not proactively reach out and find people to go to lunch with or build relationships with. `So what we can do is we can build this navigator program or a buddy system in order to integrate them into the environment.


[03:32] Some other ways that this can help in your environment is this navigator can coordinate lunches with other members of the team. So if it’s a natural networker that’s in your organization, that person that’s the go-to, they can invite the new person out to lunch with a team one day and they can invite them out with another team another day. And what we find is these navigator-type people are again, natural networkers that are naturally putting together the different groups and dynamics to go to different restaurants or have events at the office or whatever it might be. They’re that connector. So we can connect that new employee with the existing employee and really make them feel welcome.

Scaling Company Culture

[04:12] Now just this morning, I actually read a culture article. I spend a bit of time each day reading different culture articles that come out and I really enjoyed one on Forbes called “How To Grow And Scale A Culture Like 23andMe”. So what 23andMe does, and I found it as one of their sections in their article, was they called this the base pairs program and I was happy to just discover this because it was some validation around extending the idea from EO to businesses and in their base pairs program, they match new employees to senior employees outside of their management chain. So they actually purposely match them with this base pair or what we call the navigator outside of their normal structure. So it’s inducing this exposure to different groups. And it’s specifically stated in the article. Their goal is to create this cross-collaborative environment where new ideas are flowing across teams, and the only way to do that is to build relationships across teams and people.

Your Navigator Program

[05:13] So what I would like you to do is think of how can you introduce a navigator program, a base pair program as 23andMe would call it, or a buddy system, however you want to brand it, how can you implement a program that is going to promote cross-functional collaboration with maybe your existing team and employees or new employees that come on board with your organization.


[05:38] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you’d like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1 or email us at podcast@epicculture.co.