Being new on the job is never easy, not even for a senior: unfamiliar routines, new colleagues, new clients, new work culture. To be able to navigate through this successfully, it's essential to get a thorough, well-thought-through onboarding. Is that possible in times where physical meetings are limited? In my personal experience as new on the job – yes, it is. In this article, I’ll explain how.
Despite having arrived in EGGS during Corona times and social restrictions, I feel I have had an excellent onboarding experience. I've realised that feeling connected and included has less to do with physical proximity and more to do with genuine thoughtfulness and interest in people, especially new team members. If your company wants to give your new employee a warm welcome, don’t despair. It’s entirely possible despite home office, through good planning and effort. Here are four concrete tips.
1. Stretch the onboarding over time
Don’t expect to fully integrate a new team member in one week. Stuffing five days in a row with onboarding sessions, PowerPoint presentations, and meetings with new colleagues or clients won’t cut it. It just causes mental exhaustion, and half of what’s been presented will be forgotten by next week. Instead, spread the onboarding sessions over time. Urgent information should, of course, be introduced as soon as possible, but certain things can be presented later on. That way, you give the new employee some time to reset between the onboarding sessions and time to process new learnings.
2. Include as many people as possible
Another thing I have experienced as very positive is including as many people in the onboarding process as possible. This is yet a good reason for letting the onboarding take time – introducing groups of employees, clients, or other relevant people in different parts of the onboarding is an excellent way of understanding the organisation better. In EGGS, for example, different onboarding sessions are held by different people, which is a natural way of familiarising yourself with the existing roles, individuals, and functions in the company. The more people you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel navigating the organisation on your own afterwards.
3. Be genuinely open and curious
It's essential that the organisation as a whole is open and curious about people – including its employees. I've felt very well received in my own onboarding process, with people being warm, open, and welcoming. People frequently check in on me, ask me how things are going, and invite me to virtual chats. When you're fresh on the job, it might be a bit difficult to know whom to ask about what, or you might be afraid of exposing what you don’t know. However, when you feel that coworkers and superiors are genuinely interested in you and want to help, it eases the stress you might feel from being “the new one.”
As I mentioned earlier, letting things take time and not require people to hit the ground running should be one of the top priorities in onboarding. In this, follow-up is a crucial component. In EGGS, all employees have what we call “Creative chats” on a regular basis with their leader. These are structured conversations using a Miro board where we together assess strengths and weaknesses, interest, and set goals for professional development. It’s been a very positive challenge assessing myself and has helped me better understand what I’m passionate about and what direction I'm heading in my career.
I find that having somebody follow-up on your onboarding and your development in a structured way and over time is very valuable. Apart from helping you adapt and settle in, it also gives the organisation input on how well things are working (or not) with the person they hired and if they can do something to make the onboarding and transition towards an onboarded employee successful.
So, from my own experience, I would say that it's entirely possible to welcome new people into your organisation even in the (in)famous 'times like these.' All you need is time, good planning, and an open mind (and heart!).
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