Employee on-boarding is commonly considered an HR responsibility, but the most impactful relationships are between team members and direct managers, so it’s important to also have a team process for acclimating new employees as well.
Surveys commonly find that the most frequent reason employees leave a company is not pay, benefits, and the like – it’s because of poor relationships with their team or manager. If we create a strong connection in the beginning of the relationship, it sets the tone for better interaction throughout a person’s career with the company.
What led me to my current role
I moved to Denver, Colorado in May 2013 when I left my home state of Michigan for the possibility of a more fruitful life in a new place.
When I moved here I had no job, no contacts, and absolutely no idea which employers would be the right fit for me, so I did what any wise person would do – I applied for everything. My free for all application process led me to several job offers from good companies, but I chose the company I work for because I felt the strongest connection to my future manager.
My future manager had a warm and approachable personality and she wore brightly colored capris to one of my interviews, which let me know that I didn’t have to dress in a stuffy corporate wardrobe if I came to work there. That was all I needed – not to mention my teammates were honest and funny during my interviews with them, and I found common ground with my 2nd level leader.
Managing change and the “cube farm”
In my previous role I worked in a small company and had an office that was decorated by a designer to fit my tastes. They chose pink and green elements and incorporated black and white floral photography on the walls. There was no mistaking which one was mine.
Being accustomed to a small business environment, I was overwhelmed by the “cube farm” I had walked into. I had no idea how I would continue to identify my desk each day. To welcome me, my teammates had decorated my desk with a bouquet of balloons, so for the entire first week the only way I found my desk was to look for the decorations. They also gave me a little “survival kit,” complete with a sewing kit, Clorox pen, and even a Nerf gun for those extra stressful days.
As an added bonus I was able to sit right next to my manager and teammates, so when I had questions – which was often – I could get the support I needed right away.
Building a network
During the first two weeks, my manager set me up with informational interviews with relevant leaders in the office. She did that so I could have immediate contacts to make my job easier and also to get me comfortable with talking with those people once I started diving into my work. Building a network is so important, especially for reducing isolation and having access to resources.
To further build my network, my manager would give me people resources to find information rather than showing me an intranet page or just getting me the answer herself. This allowed me to spend more time face to face with people and learn more about who does what around the office. This also helped me connect the dots and understand more about other departments and roles within the company.
Training and development
As a Communication Specialist, it’s important that I have a broad understanding of our business and the products and services we offer our customers. To help me better understand how the business works I was given opportunities to sit in on sales and customer service calls. This activity helped me to become accustomed to hearing product names and allowed me to get training directly from the people doing the work of serving our customers.
Developing a process
I know what I experienced isn’t the norm, but I think it should be the goal of every manager and team to provide a great experience for new colleagues. When we do this, it helps them reduce the stress of a new environment and the fears that come along with starting over. It also gives them a head start, so they can get up and running more quickly.
Here are a few thoughts to consider when developing your process:
What’s your on-boarding experience like?
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