Hiring is one crucial piece for every startup. Every startup needs those superstar early employees to get a move on. While we spent a lot of time, effort, and money on finding the right people, it is equally (if not more) important to onboard them well to the team.
When you think about onboarding, what comes immediately to your mind? The first days/week of team members, the initial pep talks, the initial firehose of information being dispersed. I’m also a big believer in ‘enriching the first time experience’. The employee should get all of these, but this won’t be enough. On top of this, more often than not, a startup doesn’t have processes and hence the onboarding will be fragmented. We call it ‘Learning on the Job’.
Why Give So Much Importance To Onboarding?
You want the new team members to contribute as good or even more than you. You want them to think like you, be aligned to your vision and act like ‘founders.’
- Inform them: For this, they need information. Right? They should know as much as you know, at least all about what they are going to deal with.
- Transparency: The new member should feel at home. This comfort will make him merge into the team. A good onboarding is imperative for establishing the value of transparency. (PS: Talking transparency is NOT transparency. They should feel it).
- Make them feel a part of the group: The new team member shouldn’t feel that they are on a different plane than yours. She shouldn’t feel that there is a hard divide between founders and employees.
Being a startup, it becomes tougher to onboard well
Yes. We don’t have enough resources. We don’t have a dedicated HR. We don’t have processes in place. We don’t have an induction kit. All we might have is a set of tasks if we are lucky.
In the initial phase of our startup, Profoundis, we were lucky:
When we started, we didn’t have money to give market salary. What we did is, we invited all our team members to share the same apartment as the founders were staying. The company was paying for it. This way we saved money for us and our team members.
While we were focussing on the ‘savings’, the transparency and communication flow was automatically setting in as our culture.
After the initial phase, we started building our second level leadership team: When this phase was on, I wanted to make sure we are providing them enough information for sure. We didn’t have a lot of ‘documents’ to provide. That is when I realised, all my important communication is in emails. If I can give them a peek into my conversations, I can essentially make them as informed as me.
Here Is What I (We) Did:
Started Bccing them
Ain’t this obvious? All I did was, just take an extra moment whenever I sent relevant emails, I ‘bcc’ed’ the new folks.
Added them to lists
At Profoundis, we had email lists for sales, support, finance etc. Whenever we had new leadership folks coming in, I wanted them to be added to more lists than relevant ones. More information won’t hurt when you are starting.
Created email before joining & invited them to our Slack
When the new team member was committed and we have given the offer letter, we created their email addresses in advance and invited them to our company communication tool — Slack.
The advantages are:
- The onboarding isn’t a one-time activity. It needs follow-ups which automatically happen this way.
- Opportunity to ask their doubts: When they receive a new email and they don’t understand it, they will come up and ask the questions.
- This is a cleaner, shorter, and easier-to-consume firehose that an all-in-one flow of information.
We have gone through this successful onboarding many times. However, I think Aswin Shibu and Jaison Abey Sabu were the most effective so far with this. Aswin Shibu — do you want to share your experience?