The shift to remote work in the wake of the pandemic has transformed a lot of business functions — including onboarding, and we know that it plays a critical role in a new hire's success and happiness.
Colby Morgan leads the enterprise business at Tango, which automatically creates written, step-by-step how-to guides in real-time without the need for video recording. Although brand new to his role, he’s no stranger to designing onboarding strategies for teams, and is excited to build it out with Tango. We’ve asked him for some tips on remote onboarding.
Colby: I've worked remotely since well before the pandemic. This will be my third completely remote company and job that I've had over the last 5 years.
I was at Section4 during a time of rapid growth, where we went from 20 to 120 employees in 12 months, onboarding folks from all over the world. I had colleagues in London, Canada, West Coast, and East Coast. Relationship development from a virtual space is a little bit harder but can be done very well.
C: Of course, planning is first. At Section4 we had a multi-step onboarding guide and template for people managers to use - which included onboarding people logistically. Most important here, was getting new hires into our systems prior to them starting at the company, allowing for that access before they start.
This will sound simple, but it’s important to make time for remote employees to meet others at the organization. “Coffee chats” need to remain organic, unscripted, and unstructured. New hires shouldn’t only meet those who they are working with directly, but also folks who can clearly speak the language of the organization, who may have a deeper experience, or are in a strong customer-facing role.
Synchronous time should be spent on the personal side of onboarding; building relationships, and understanding the culture.
Logistical onboarding should happen asynchronously. The new hire doesn't need to raise a question in a 1:1 coffee chat like “how do I get into Hubspot?”
C: I'm the first sales hire, so it'll be important for me to sync up live with the full team and founders, understand some of the priorities, and lock in my 90-day plan pretty quickly. Essentially, I need to go on a listening tour for a few weeks. Tango has an incredible process set up, so I am already up and running a few days in!
To bring any new team members on board, my strategy is to host a training call once per day, for the first week or two. These calls will be both coaching and information sharing.
Sometimes it’s easy enough to do a phone call. This shows a new hire that you value them getting out off screen. You value them being able to find personal time to go for a walk, stretch their legs, and get off their computer - that can be really healthy. I always encourage this and take weekly phone calls with folks.
C: 1. Get them bought in on the culture, so they feel they're not only aligned, but they're encouraged to become a culture carrier themselves.
2. Getting them really comfortable with their function and making the logistical stuff as simple as possible. This must be really easy.
3. Get employees winning fast. Within the first 2 weeks on the job, the new hire must have a win in their function. If you're a salesperson, that might be closing a deal, shipping some new updates as an engineer, etc.
C: The first couple weeks after the onboarding plan has been executed, most new hires are left alone. Big problem. Even if you put together the most robust fully inclusive onboarding plan and execute that plan, there needs to be a follow-up onboarding cadence. Not just a regular 1:1 or feedback sequence. You need something that is more intentional.
Remote companies are investing a lot in onboarding. But I think we often constrain onboarding to mean the first “X” number of days or weeks that an employee is at the company. Once that timeline is complete, it feels as if you are done with something. You are not. After those first “X” numbers of days/weeks, onboarding should then move to the next level -“post-onboarding.” Not the 90-day plan, but the 365-day plan.
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