I don’t know about you but I have had some less than stellar first days on the job, where the day is full of paperwork and downtime sitting around waiting on managers or others to “get around to me.” It sort of makes sense right? You’re new, you don’t really understand the nuances of the company, your position, or even the technology you’re using. I wonder if it’s just a foregone conclusion that your day is just going to be that, paperwork and sitting around? But does it have to be that way? I have also started my first day with less than stellar equipment, few or no accounts or nothing at all, just a blank desk. At some point in the day someone will walk by and say, “Oh I guess we need to get you some things.” I have been at companies that view this as some odd right of passage, or I am told “it’s the just the way it is.” Why is that? I am sure in most instances it was not intentional, but sometimes managers are just so relieved to find someone to fill the position they forget about how it feels to be the “n00b” on your first day. BizStream, being a small company, has run into some of these same challenges, so we started an “On-Boarding” team to alleviate or lessen some of these issues and make the first day a better experience for everyone.
You only get one first day, you only get one first impression: why not make it as awesome as possible?
Just like the potential team member wants to make a good impression during their interview, wouldn’t you want to show off your best as a department, team, or company? After all, you spent a lot of time and effort to find that right person to help backfill, maintain, or take your company to the next level. Why would you want them to question if they made the right move?
When I started at BizStream I noticed that we were not consistent on how new team members were brought in. Now, to the leadership’s credit, I was greatly impressed that they had thought it out and had a roughed out task list. The issue was it was not formalized or inclusive enough to make things consistent even though it far exceeded some other companies I had worked for. I have had good success in previous roles with bringing people in so I wrote up a quick one page outline and shared it with a few people internally. This led to a larger discussion and our On-Boarding team was formed.
As a team we talked about what needed to happen, at minimum, on an team member's first day. We talked about the good and bad of our first days at other companies and we developed what is now our standard On-Boarding schedule. Our team decided that we wanted, at minimum, the first day completely scheduled out for the new team member. Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any downtime, but it is minimal. If you know BizStream, you know we are not into a formal, corporate, schedule your every waking moment kind of thing, but we made an exception here to help facilitate a lasting first impression.
We started by reviewing who needed to be involved in bringing on a new team member. Our current team looks like this: Office Manager, HR, Building Manager, Project Manager, IT. Each one of these team members has a vital role in “on-boarding” a new team member. Each time we bring on a new team member we meet as a team with the hiring manager and someone from our Leadership Team to ensure that we understand all the expectations that were laid out during the hiring process, review any specific details, and set the schedule for the team member’s first day. This way everyone is on the same page and no one is blindsided on the day of. This is typically not a long meeting, typically only taking 30 minutes or less.
The First Day Plan
: Below is a sample document that is printed out and left on the new team member's desk as well as emailed to the hiring manager and the On-Boarding team. This ensures that at any point during the day, anyone of these people can help the new team member through their day. The actual first day agenda document will have photos of the team members that the new hire is scheduled to meet with. I have found this to be exceptionally helpful as new team members are bombarded with data the whole day. It’s nice to be able to put a face with a name and if you need to find someone, to know what they look like.
Sample First Day Agenda
Late start time
: First off, you will notice that we ask our new team member to start their first day at 9. You are asking yourself why do you give them a free hour on their first day
? Typically most of our new team members start on a Monday. How many times have you walked into the office after a weekend and you have nothing but fires to put out? What if you were caught in traffic, or your kid spills milk all over you just as you're about to leave? My experience is that new team members will try and show up early on their first day, now you as a manager, are already stressed due to the above or any other myriad of reasons. By having them start at 9 this helps not transfer that stress to the new team member and allows the manager to give them their full attention.
Get used to your new digs
: We will get into gear and accounts a little later, but with most people they like their desk a certain way, they like specific items on their desktop or want to import their browser favorites. This is a great time for them to do that and make their workspace their own and of course, to grab a cup of coffee.
: We have a fantastic and unique office, and our team members really like it. We typically show people around when we interview, but we want the new team member to be familiar with where things are. They are going to be here 8 or more hours a day, it's nice not to have to hunt for things or ask every time, “where is that conference room?” Our office manager, Michelle
, takes the new team member around and shows off our uniqueness, and the nuances of our office.
: Every Monday we have a company meeting in which we discuss personal highlights in our “List of Awesome” as well as what business is upcoming for the week or month, what is new in the sales cycle, what things are being rolled out, marketing, events and a check in to see if anyone has too much or not enough work. This is a great and relaxed time in which we all introduce ourselves to the new team member and where the new team member can get a 30,000 foot view of what our company is doing.
Human Resources (HR) Paperwork
: You can’t get around it, so it’s here. Amanda
, our HR manager and Bookkeeper is great and keeps things as light and painless as filling out the handbook, insurance, and W4’s can be!
Lunch on BizStream
: What better way to bring on a new team member than to take them out to lunch on the company their first day? We are a team and a family at BizStream so we try and get to know our new team members on multiple levels. Lunch usually includes the hiring manager, one of both of the owners, and some or all of the team the new team member will be working with. Again, we are family so lunch includes lots of razzing and laughter about whatever is on our plates that week.
Building and Quality Assurance
: Our building manager also happens to be in charge of Quality Assurance (QA). Josh
will review how to access the building, reemphasize where some key things are, and then discuss how our QA team handles projects.
: That’s me.I like to discuss the software and hardware we use. Where to find things on our corporate file share, how to access our development servers, and how to access our VPN. This can sometimes get bogged down in a lot of technical stuff so I push to keep it light and short unless there are specific questions.
, our lead Project Manager (PM),will take the new team member through our typical project process, walk them through our PM software, and show them how and where to track their work time. Every company does project management differently and each project manager leads projects a little differently. We find it helpful to be upfront as possible on how this works at BizStream in order to ease the new team member into our processes and reduce confusion.
: We primarily use a Content Management System (CMS) named Kentico
for most of the websites our team builds. BizStream has it’s own standards on how to implement Kentico and it’s code, so the rest of the day is dedicated to working through these standards and getting used to Kentico.
Not on the list
: The Friday afternoon of the new team member’s first week we schedule a social hour. This is a time for everyone to grab a featured drink, chosen by the new team member, get to know the new team member, and relax as a team.
The Gear and Accounts
BizStream is obviously a tech company and we love our tech! As a new full time team member you get a laptop with the same specs as every other developer. You don’t get a hand me down because the IT guy wanted a new machine, you get a clean machine that is not more than a year old, and is packed with the same amount of power as anyone else in the company. We give you at least three 24” screens connected to a dock, so taking your laptop to and from meetings is as painless as possible.
As a perk, you get to select the keyboard and mouse that you want to work with. It’s just another way that BizStream allows you to customize your workspace to fit your individual taste. The desk is full of BizStream goodies when you arrive. Our swag stock changes from time to time but a new team members can expect things like coffee mugs, travel mugs, sunglasses, pens, notepads, bottle openers and the like.
We strive to have all of the necessary accounts built for the new team member before they arrive. We use lots of software in our jobs, both in house and in the cloud. I do my best to configure all those sign-ons to connect to one of two authentication platforms so when a new team member starts, they don’t have a sheet of 20 different passwords to commit to memory. If I did my job right, it’s one, sometimes two passwords, connected to a single sign-on (SSO) store.
The Follow Up
We want to know what works, what didn’t, or what could be tweaked to make the experience for the next new team member that much better. About 30 days after the first day, we send out a quick survey that asks questions about your first day and first week on the job. We keep it short and light but we really do desire the feedback to make sure we are on the right track. The On-Boarding team reviews each survey and makes improvements as necessary.
BizStream does not have all the right answers. Our team meets regularly to discuss what works what doesn’t. We have gone through several iterations to get the process to where it is now. Not all things described here will work for all companies, but I think it’s a good starting point to evaluate if you could be doing a better job as a team, department or company.
What are your first day experiences? How could you improve our process? Let’s discuss them in the comment section below.