Smoothening the onboarding flow at a small agency
How to Get New Colleagues Members Up and Running in No-Time
Having someone new join your team is one of the more exciting things to happen within a small company. The new team member can bring refreshing vibes to an existing group dynamic along with new skills, experience and customs.
Chances are there are some differences between how the new team member is used to work and how your team goes about things. Learning from a new team member can bring great insights to how you’re used to doing things. On the flip side, getting the new team member aligned with your team’s customs/methods as soon a possible is beneficial for everyone involved.
I’m strictly talking about the small day-to-day technical working methods and productivity boosting shortcuts you and your team have gotten down to a science.
Since we started hiring we have been actively working on new ways to smoothen the onboarding experience for new team members. This new approach focuses on onboarding from two perspectives:
The company’s perspective
The new team member’s perspective
The company's perspective
A lot of design or dev teams are a serious source of accumulated knowledge and skills. Over the years you and the rest of your team have most likely found ways to get to the best results as quick as possible. For example by sharing know-how and polishing your process with everyones input.
With a new person joining the team it’s important to both see what you can learn from their working methods as well as letting them get familiar with your team’s trusty workflow.
The new teammembers perspective
Likely more important than your looking at onboarding from your company’s perspective, is making the onboarding as smooth as possible for your new team member. They’re probably super excited to get started and want to do everything right. It’s important for managers to let that sink it as they can keep the in mind when facilitating onboarding tools and methods.
We’ve been polishing the onboarding process to touch on two important areas/stages (assuming the HR administrative side of onboarding is already taken care of) :
🏠 At home 👉 company culture & customs (social)
💼 At the office 👉 knowhow & exercises (technical)
Try and understand what the new team member is going through. They might have signed their contract with your company, but before that they’ve made a decision to apply to your company. The road that has lead them to applying to your job opening will be different for each new team member. They may have switched jobs, or come straight out of college. Or perhaps they’ve freelanced before this, or this is their first job period. Regardless of what made them want to join your team, their expectations will probably be similar for most of them; They’re excited to embrace a new phase in their career and get started.
🏠 At home 👉 Company culture & customs
Onboarding doesn’t necessarily have to start at the office. At Yummygum we try to take away some of the unknown by letting new team members read up on the company culture and customs in the broad sense of the word. Even before the new employee enters our office for their first day.
Allow them to get a head start and learn about the company history, its services, its clients and of course their new co-workers.
We use Slite for this (although Process.st or Notion also get the job done). These type of tools allow companies to present nicely formatted paragraphs of texts mixed with tangible to-do’s. We send the new team member a Slite link one week prior to their first day at the job. This gives them enough time to prep their computer and install the tools they’ll be using on a daily basis. Besides that they can access Slack and snoop around and pitch in in conversations before their first working day.
💼 At the office 👉 Technical knowhow & Exercises
We’ve found that the level of experience and know-how varies heavily from person to person before they join our team.
Although they all share a solid basis of talent, if someones is missing pro-techniques or shortcuts in a certain app it can slow them down in turning creative ideas into a presentable product, whether it’s a designed mockup or a coded component. Besides allowing them to take some time to understand and learn tip-and-tricks your team might benefit from getting them up to speed with new apps, utilities and/or frameworks.
In order to allow new team members to get their technical knowhow up to par with the rest of the team we supply them with small challenges/tutorials wrapped in exercises. Because these to-do’s sometimes require explanation on sight which is why this part of the onboarding works well at the office.
We use Trello.com to let new team members go through a list of small exercises. At the same time they become familiar with Trello, which we use on a daily basis for our internal task management.
There you have it
Being aware of how a new team member’s perspective can make the entire employee onboard process a lot better. Not just for the employee but also for your entire team.