Inside JRC

Starting Off Right: What I enjoyed most about my onboarding at Julia Reis Consulting

By Charlotte Carnehl

What words come to mind when you think about onboarding for a new job?
For me, it’s “exciting,” “slightly scary” and “overwhelming”. In the first days at a new organisation, you need to navigate through a pile of information and remember the names and responsibilities of colleagues—all while seeming immensely competent. Quite exhausting, don’t you think? 

Luckily, there’s something organisations can do about it. I’ve recently experienced how crucial a well-thought-through onboarding experience was to put my mind at ease and how it enabled me to hit the ground running in just a couple of days.

So let me share with you what I think Julia Reis Consulting gets right about its onboarding process (disclaimer: It was my idea to write this and not a task I needed to complete 😉):

Why does good onboarding matter?

Onboarding describes the process of integrating a new colleague into an organisation by familiarising them with their tasks and the company’s culture and policies. 

If onboarding goes well, new team members will be more likely to succeed in their roles, embody company values and form personal connections. It’s a crucial moment to get off on the right foot; several statistics show the importance of a good onboarding process. One example:  Companies with strong onboarding experiences improved retention of new hires by more than 80% and productivity by over 70%. 

6 great onboarding practices at Julia Reis Consulting

Here’s an overview of six practices that helped me to feel welcome at Julia Reis Consulting and to take on tasks with little guidance quickly:

1. You’ve got mail! 

Book titled "Vom Gründer zum CEO" lying on a wooden table

A small gesture goes a long way: I received a book with a personalised message in my (analog) mailbox before my official start. I’m all in for remote-first workplaces and paperless working, but sometimes it’s so nice to hold something in your hands. Receiving this gift also reassured me that there’s someone waiting who wants me to look forward to my first day.

2. Synchronous and asynchronous learning with diverse resources

You jump from onboarding call to onboarding call and simply can’t digest any more input. Sounds familiar? Onboarding is a prime time for information overload: Colleagues are excited that you’re there and want to share all their knowledge with you as quickly as possible.

Julia Reis Consulting strikes a great balance between synchronous deep dives and Q&As and asynchronous learning opportunities. Here’s what I mean:

  • The comprehensive Notion company handbook and my personal onboarding page guided me through my first days. It has all the need-to-knows around the company’s “Why, What & How” combined with very practical tasks like getting access to relevant tools and setting up your new email signature.
  • There’s a welcome meeting on the first day, weekly 1:1s and team meetings as well as several deep dives spread over the first months. It’s great to have moments for synchronous connection while not drowning in meetings for the first couple of days. 
  • There are plenty of onboarding videos detailing central processes or tools that I could watch (or re-watch) whenever I had time without needing another team member to walk me through the details. We discussed my questions about the video content in our 1:1, but other than that I could mainly onboard myself.
  • In the onboarding Slack channel, I found a wealth of articles, papers and videos about recent developments in our work area. I loved to see some podcasts on the list as well—it’s always lovely to have onboarding elements that don’t force you to sit in front of your screen.

3. Deep dives combined with hands-on-tasks

If onboarding were a supply chain, Julia Reis Consulting would get a golden start for just-in-time delivery: Many onboarding deep dives into bigger topics are perfectly aligned with an opportunity to directly apply the new knowledge. I had an intro to best practices in Canva directly before being tasked to design some merch for one of our clients. This connection of theory, immediate application and quick feedback helped me to master new tools and consulting areas quicker than I ever did before.

4. Advance planning

I like to see what’s coming, you too? As soon as I joined the organisation, my calendar was marked with various meetings—not just for the first few weeks, but for the first six months. Weekly 1:1s, regular feedback sessions, an internal Christmas party, OKR planning… 

This forward-looking approach sets clear expectations and nurtures a culture of consistent feedback. I don’t mind spontaneous check-ins and ad hoc changes, but some things shouldn’t just be done “when we get to it”.

This leads me to my next point:

5. Initial feedback conversation

A clear highlight was our initial feedback conversation (in week one!), where we aligned on expectations, my role and our collaborative styles. Unpacking our reasons for joining forces, success metrics and individual collaboration needs was enlightening and provided me with a guideline to refer back to.

We also spent quite some time answering why we each signed the work contract. This was a clear first to me: How often has an employer told you in great detail why they decided to work with you? It wasn’t only great to hear what unique qualities my manager sees in me but also to understand what larger goals the organisation is trying to achieve and how they’re envisioning my contribution to it.

Plus, in line with our internal feedback cycle, we use an ongoing template for feedback conversations. The template lets us pick up previous discussion points easily and observe developments over time. Are you curious about this template? It’s a key component of our Feedback Essentials Tool; you can find more information here.

6. Looking at how we tick

One of the cultural values that drew me to Julia Reis Consulting is “Honesty & authenticity”: We aim to speak the truth (internally and with our clients) and show our true selves. While we’re not a “work family” and don’t strive to be one, “honesty & authenticity” are much easier if you know how you and others tick. In my first weeks, we took a closer look and used several instruments:

  • Discovering our strengths: All our team members took the Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment, a test looking at our strengths in the professional context. During a dedicated team meeting, we discussed our individual strengths and their combination with the strengths of others. This gave me a great understanding of our team and who could support or mentor me in specific areas I wish to further improve.
  • Understanding what drives us: Have you ever encountered the Reiss Motivation Profile? It assesses how strongly you are motivated by 16 basic human desires, for example, interdependence, social contact or physical activity. Looking at what makes each of us tick, what motivates us or how we argue laid the basis for a rich discussion about possible points of tension within our team. It’s something we’re now aware of and can monitor openly. If the Reiss Motivation Profile sounds like it might be useful to you or your team, feel free to let us know: Our Founder and Chief Consultant Julia is a certified Reiss Motivation Profile® Master and has supported several clients in understanding their unique motivators (or triggers) even better.
  • Going beyond the “work self”: During our internal Christmas party, each team member presented their “personal map”. This map covers information beyond what we can see at work: Where are we from? What goals in life do we have? Any surprising hobbies? The advantage of this open format is that each team member can decide how much they’d like to share. We discovered that we’d all like to travel to Japan—perhaps an idea for the next company offsite? 😉

Of course, there is not only one way to do onboarding well, and the elements and practices you choose depend on your organisation’s specific needs. But I assure you that thinking it through will be worth your time and money (and that of your new hire). Because if onboarding is done well both the new joiner and the organisation can really trust the process.

→ Would you like to improve your organisation's onboarding process?
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February 1, 2024