Onboarding in a new role is rarely seamless, and in a global pandemic with folks working remotely (very suddenly), there is a learning curve for all parties involved. We have successfully partnered with cosmetics companies to place talent during this time and have conducted regular check-in’s with new hires and hiring managers to gather intel on challenges and successes they’ve experienced onboarding remotely. Based on this feedback, we have built a guide outlining what has been helpful for new hires to get acclimated along with areas they would like to see improved that may help others in the future.
The first 90-days are crucial in any circumstance in getting acclimated, understanding workflow, processes, nuances, etc. Here are the best practices for the first quarter of onboarding remotely:
GUIDE FOR HIRING MANAGERS
In the words of one beauty Executive, “The hardest part was that in theory, the onboarding would be quick… You write a guide for them, walk them through the guide on a call, and remind them periodically where they can find answers. But that is not the reality…”
Prior to First Day:
- Coordinate with the IT team to ensure the proper materials (laptop, phone, printer, etc.) have been delivered and are set up.
- Schedule a call with your new hire to review the following:
- Confirm receipt of all hardware and materials. Discuss any resources they will need for their first week to run smoothly.
- Provide your expectation on preferred communication methods amongst the team (Most teams within a company have set up a unique preference for example: preferred method video conference, chat, text, or phone calls).
- Review what they can expect in the first week to get acclimated including conference calls with the team, top-level overviews on active or priority projects etc.
- Provide a directory of phone numbers for different department leaders and mentors in the organization. This allows the candidate to be resourceful and build relationships with cross-functional teams
- Create excitement for your new team member by sending a “Welcome” email to the individual wishing them a happy first day.
- Send a team e-blast with a photo and brief write-up introducing the new hire. This acts as an icebreaker for the team (that may not get to meet in-person any time soon) and adds a human-element for your team to further engage on shared interests.
- Deliver a prepared schedule of video conference introductions with the new hire’s direct team and most frequent cross-functional counterparts. Provide a brief agenda outlining specific talking points to review so that there is a direction to the conversation.
- Conduct an end of week check-in to review their first week, discuss any remote complications and set expectations for the following week.
- Weekly one-on-one meetings are imperative to build working relationships, allowing you to understand challenges in “real time” and the opportunity to redirect ensuring that productivity is not lost, and expectations are met.
- Creating an environment where questions are welcomed is crucial in the remote world. A new employee that does not feel comfortable asking questions will impact their productivity and overall success.
- Provide resource guides for software, logins, and any platforms. These will be useful “go to” resources as employees get acclimated.
- End of month, formal check-in. Have a check list to review the following:
- What areas/processes they feel they understand well
- What areas/processes they would like further training
- Ask about any challenges they have experienced within their first month of onboarding remotely to adjust since this is a learning curve for everyone involved (in most cases)
- Ask Human Resources to check in with the new hire directly to let them know that they are also a resource if the new hire has anything to discuss.
Second and Third Month:
- Repeat all the above from the First Month. Continued communication around expectations and what is working/not working will be crucial to ensure performance objectives are met.
Helpful Feedback from Hiring Managers on Best Practices to Start a New Hire Remotely:
Conference call balance
- “We were having conference call overload and it interfered with our productivity. We’ve been really successful with a 1-hour long sync twice each week! Utilize a Shared Doc (it is like writing like an email but on one shared sheet that everyone can access, and you don’t have to dig around trying to find a lost/overlooked message).”
- “We noticed that we just weren’t ‘flowing’ as creatively so our team will occasionally meet, adhering to all guidelines. They meet outdoors at the park, all 6-feet apart, wearing masks. They’ve all said how much it helps them in productivity, creativity, and morale.”
Assigning projects with realistic expectations
- “We had 2 Executives start and the Founder was eager to get them going on special projects. But it was overwhelming to throw 10 projects at them when they have not gotten a firm grasp on 1. Now I recommend integrating special projects slowly while allowing the new hire to get acclimated. Assign just 1 project in the first month, not 10.”
How to build/maintain a sense of company culture and lift morale
- “We have regular Zoom Happy Hours each week or every other week to just get to know the team.”
- “We found common ground that we all play Animal Crossing. We create the opportunity at the end of the workday to just shut down the work side and play Animal Crossing together.”
- “We really like our team’s ‘Show and Tell’. One person picks a topic like a personal hobby and shares it with the team… People on our team lead a 15-minute yoga session virtually, 5 Favorite Books and why they impacted your life, teach us how to draw a picture… It’s really fun to get to know the person behind the screen”
- “We’re an essential business so the office is open to come-in as-needed, but we have the flexibility to WFH several days each week. It is nice to have a place to go into to focus on work and break up the day instead of always being at home. We just check in with each other to see how many people are in the office to determine if it’s comfortable/safe to go in and maintain distance.”
- “We are starting ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ and have a breathwork coach to teach a mini session virtually.”
GUIDE FOR NEW HIRES
- Ask questions:
- “Who (cross-functionally) should I meet with in my first week?”
- “How do you best prefer to communicate? Phone/email/chat/text?”
- Ask questions:
- Expect to attend an extensive amount of conference calls (video and phone). Observe, take notes, and learn on each call to continue to understand the dynamics of the team/cross-functional teams.
- End of week recap with your boss – Be proactive and ask to define the goals for the 1st month and ensure you have the resources to obtain the goal.
- Ask your boss: “What can I take off your plate?”
- Provide feedback to your boss on the onboarding process and any lingering challenges, software problems, communication disconnects. It important to problem-solve before the problem impacts the quality of work.
- Don’t fear taking the initiative to touch base with HR or your direct supervisor to share areas that you’d appreciate clarification or additional support. It is a fair assumption that your boss and HR are keeping busy schedules managing their own tasks. You have not been forgotten, but as the old saying goes: “It is better to ask, than to assume.”
- Continue to proactively manage up with feedback on the projects, learned processes, and understanding expectations from the leadership team.
- You have gotten your feet wet and are ready to dive in!
- Continue taking the initiative to manage up. An open flow of communication is crucial with your supervisor. Create a list of specific areas you would like further guidance/support and review changing priorities weekly with your supervisor.
Helpful Feedback from New Hires Discussing Challenges in Starting a New Role Remotely
- “One person on our team is SO sweet in-person. But I was alarmed that her email etiquette is so short that it can seem rude… If I did not know her in-person, I would be reluctant to email her at all.”
- “There is no real ‘get to know you’ in place… The team feels the pressure to meet deadlines and are so busy with active projects that no one seems to be focused on morale… just get the job done. Calls are regular but always focused on all-business and occasionally ‘how was your weekend?’”
- “I’m mainly concerned about my team. They are not shy about being overwhelmed… I’m the new boss in the organization and don’t want to lose my team after just starting. I’ll talk to HR to discuss.”
Get comfortable with conference calls
- “SO. MANY. CONFERENCE. CALLS. We are meeting heavy! Everyone says, ‘You used to just be able to walk up to someone’s desk.’ Our whole days were conference calls at first and it was not practical to get the work done. So, like a regular meeting, we identified the key players that would need to be on the call and have smaller groups, while scheduling a weekly all-hands meeting.”
- “Our team does regular conference calls without video. Which I love! I absolutely dread being on camera… that said, I’ve had the embarrassing experience where I have been in office and someone will come up to me but we are wearing masks… and I’ll have to ask who they are. I can see how video calls would be helpful! And I think it would be nice to add that more human-element of being on camera to get better acquainted.”
Home office set up
- “I started with my small, aesthetically-pleasing desk, thinking this pandemic would just be a few weeks… I’ve now upgraded to a more official home office with a better desk and chair.”
Adapting standard training processes to the “new normal”
- “The company is a manufacturing facility and my training is not officially complete until I have a tour of the factory floor but due to new health and safety restrictions, I can’t take the tour and it might be months before I can… Can we do a virtual factory tour?”
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