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Best practices: remote onboarding during coronavirus and beyond

Best Practices for Successful Remote Onboarding

/by Ann Maxey

At Herrmann, we believe that a successful and comprehensive talent onboarding program is fundamentally important to the success of our new talent. We believe that a strong foundation in who we are, our history, our organization, our vision and our future, set up our new talent for continued success throughout their onboarding journey. We lay this foundation by having the first week of our onboarding led by our Talent team. 

Given the recent shift to remote work, the question that has come up most recently is “How would one onboard a recent new hire?”

For us, being a 100% virtual company, we spend the first week of talent onboarding focusing on the core foundation of all things Herrmann. We believe that a strong foundation in who we are, our history, our organization, our vision and our future sets up our new talent for continued success throughout their onboarding journey. We lay this foundation by having the first week of our onboarding led by our Talent team.

Our onboarding engagement with the Talent team doesn’t start on day one, it starts upon signature, and we provide continued engagement up until the first day and through our entire 90-day program.

Joining a new company and starting a new role can be both exciting and anxious for the new hire. We make it a point to send the new hire a quick note to emphasize how thrilled we are in them joining our team/organization. These notes primarily come from the Talent team, the hiring manager, and anyone else who was involved in the recruitment and hiring process. Because our entire interview process is virtual (we use Zoom), these welcome notes help our new talent continue to feel connected to everyone they met throughout the process.

In an office setting, typically a new talent will have a welcome basket with company swag and welcome notes on their desk, and we do that virtually. Each new talent receives a “care package” consisting of various Herrmann products to help carry on the energy and excitement on that first day.

We make sure to do a few more touchpoints to prep for the first day, including information on when they can expect to receive their company-issued laptop. This notification includes tracking number and initial login credentials to activate the laptop and system access. Another touchpoint is an overview of what they can expect on their first day and week with us, how to log in to join us, and a detailed schedule that includes start and end times, along with main topics, for each day. Calendar meeting invitations with the corresponding Zoom link are also sent out to both their personal and company email address to ensure clarity and comfort.

In pursuit of our own fundamentals, our Talent Onboarding and activities within follow the Whole Brain Thinking methodology:

  • Day one provides the general overview of who we are and what we do. This includes a review of the company history, our core fundamentals/values, an introduction to Whole Brain® Thinking, and a review of the typical Talent policies and procedures such as payroll, benefits, expense reports and our organizational chart. We also cover the various IT technologies that we utilize for communication and workplace efficiency.

    We find it very important to incorporate several items to prepare our talent in what it means to work in a remote environment. Several new team members have no experience with remote work, and even if they do, setting proper expectations, and providing guidance on best practices, is important for remote work success. Here we outline the importance of structure, communication, collaboration, ongoing engagement and connectivity.

    To help with that connectivity, we make sure that our new talent meets team members on day one. We introduce them to our entire team through welcome videos that our team created, and introduce our virtual coffee with a colleague program to close out their first day. 
  • Day two is when we really start introducing the four quadrants of Whole Brain® Thinking, and where we introduce topics and activities that focus on the analytical, logical and technical aspects. We go a little deeper in reviewing the A quadrant of our fundamentals what our core behavioral value of “Measure It” means. Each new team member has another 1:1 debrief of their HBDI®. Since the A quadrant also refers to the “WHAT,” we focus a lot of our day on learning about the Herrmann products, our clients, our thinkers, our communities, our metrics, and our internal company dashboard.

  • Day three is focused on the B quadrant on planning, organizational and administrative aspects. On this day, we review the core behavioral value of “Do It” and the fundamentals that are embedded within that value. Since the B quadrant refers to the “HOW,” we go over some functions that are important to how we do business, including an introduction to Agile. We spend significant time on the topic of our own internal communication as it relates to our Slack channels (business related topics, as well as some social and fun channels), email including helping them set up their email signature, and our company-wide meetings and their purpose. This day is also reserved to do the required compliance training that all employees must complete.

  • Day four is focused on the C quadrant on interpersonal and emotional thinking aspect. We review our core value of “Share It” and its corresponding fundamentals. Since the C quadrant refers to the “WHO” aspect, we spend time on what talent growth within Herrmann looks like. We also focus on several WBT activities to include the Autobiography/ReadMe and a deeper introduction to the Herrmann Platform, including the Thinker journey and Share and Compare. One really neat activity on this day is helping the new team member draft their own announcement which is then posted in our #new_talent_ama channel in Slack. Connectivity in a virtual setting helps prevent isolation and burnout and it contributes in creating that close-knit culture which then shows up in engagement, collaboration, efficiency, and productivity.

  • Day five is focused on the D quadrant on conceptualizing, holistic and creative thinking. On this day we review the fundamentals that make up our core behavioral value of “Dream It.” We discuss the company OKRs and goals for the upcoming quarter, year, and beyond. And since it’s the last day of the Talent Onboarding journey, we also focus on the central value of “Apply It.” This is done with an activity from our BrainMail® product. What better way to learn Whole Brain® Thinking than by actually doing something that makes you stop and think of the different thinking preferences.

The goal of our Talent onboarding journey is to be interactive while incorporating a balanced mix of self directed learnings, instructor led activities, breakout time for given activities, and a group review. 

As we briefly mentioned before, another important part of our onboarding schedule includes a virtual coffee/tea time with a fellow colleague. This allows the new team member to meet another coworker in an informal meet and greet session and helps foster the relationships that create a comfortable, well-rounded, environment. Lastly, we share the link to the onboarding site that they went through so they have it for reference sake. 

At the end of the Talent onboarding session, we provide an overview of what the next phase of their onboarding journey looks like – we introduce them to who they will be meeting with at the start of their next week and what to expect. This serves as a transition from Talent Team lead onboarding to their departmental lead continued onboarding and training.

The transition to departmental onboarding and training does not mean that the time in Talent onboarding is finished.

We continue to engage with the talent for the first 90 days. Activities include time, via video, with each member of our Leadership Team. This time is typically in their second or third week, allowing them to have more of an understanding of who we are, and what we do. We do these sessions in AMA (ask me anything) format, encouraging our talent to bring their questions to the table to help with context building and continued understanding. We do several of these same sessions with our CEO over the course of their 90 day onboarding.

An important part of an evolving organization is to view the onboarding journey as evergreen; seek feedback, and make the necessary adjustments based on the needs of your team. Our goal is for our team members to be successful in their roles and it’s our responsibility to provide them with the necessary tools in their toolkit. We actively seek feedback at the 30-60-90 day point, and engage our new talent to understand their productivity level. Our goal is to have them be at 100% productivity and actively engaging within our organization, by the 90 day mark.

This post was a contribution from one of the Herrmann team, Ann Maxey, Talent Manager. For more valuable insight on working remotely, please follow our entire COVID-19 series of articles, available here.


Tags: Whole Brain Thinking, Remote Work, COVID-19

The four-color, four-quadrant graphic, HBDI® and Whole Brain® are trademarks of Herrmann Global, LLC.



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