Success! You landed your dream job, or a job, which is a huge accomplishment in this extremely competitive and unique environment. Congratulations!
The interviews are behind you. The period of anticipation up to your first day is past. You have made it to…Day 1!
The first official impression you have of your new company and their first official impression of you.
The onboarding process now begins where you learn, 1) what you need to be successful in your role, and 2) how your work contributes to the overall goals of the organization. The company’s mission and vision and values and goals dance around in your head. You immediately want to be a part of a cohesive team. You want to feel that power of connection. You want to know everything about your company and colleagues and you want others to know everything about you and how you can help.
Think different. Be different. After all, the experience is different. It’s now virtual, but it can still be just as rewarding as being in person. If not more!
Follow these six tips to create a great virtual onboarding experience. You will stand out, accelerate your company knowledge, and build valuable, lasting relationships with colleagues at every level.
1. Make a stakeholder map
Start with a stakeholder map of who can help you the most across different levels within the organization. A more senior leader may be able to provide insight into the company’s mission, vision, and values. Someone within your department can help you navigate day-to-day strategies and initiatives that are important to help the company reach its goals. Make a list and reference it often.
2. Craft powerful conversations
Schedule 1:1 meetings to begin working on your personal relationships. These conversations must be mutually beneficial to both you and the person you are meeting. Plan ahead. Draft meaningful questions that will accelerate your impact.
What has worked well in the past with my role?
What advice would you have for me?
What bottlenecks / challenges have you seen?
Also, think about three ways that you can help make the other person’s job easier. Plan to share them in your discussion. Be proactive and send a follow-up email with ideas for the challenges they mention. Your eagerness to solve problems will immediately demonstrate your leadership potential.
3. Pursue incongruency and contradiction
You will interview people and 80% will be consistent with what other people say, but likely 20% will be inconsistent. That is what you should pursue! Find the truth. Seek to understand the discrepancy – why it exists and who believes what.
4. Actively investigate culture and brand
It is hard to understand culture and brand when you cannot learn about it in the lunchroom or see it in the office décor. Instead, prepare questions that address your curiosity about culture and brand.
What are your working hours?
How do most people communicate? What is the texting culture?
Am I expected to speak up in all meetings?
When does hierarchy show up?
How did you feel taken care of this year – during Q2?
How do you initiate and ask for meetings to share your insights?
5. Set goals and initiate action
Immediately put what you hear into a 30-45-60 day action plan. Be specific with tasks and timelines and ask for meetings to share your insights. This plan will be your roadmap for where you want to be and how you can get there. By setting goals early on, you are also demonstrating how you will approach your role going forward. You are showing initiative. It may change over time and that is okay. Give yourself a break. You just started, and you can adjust along the way.
6. Speak up
Start strong! You will have a chance to introduce yourself during orientation. Practice what you want to say and how you want to say it. First impressions speak volumes for how others will remember you. Use a simple framework like the one below to keep your introduction clear, concise, and compelling.
a. Name, role, and location
b. Something personal
c. Career progression
d. Something new or exciting about the company, industry, or opportunity
The way you deliver your self-introduction will set the tone for future meetings. Set a goal to speak up in the first three minutes of every meeting. Do not hold back just because you are new. Others want to hear what you have to say because you have had different experiences. Different experiences bring different perspectives.
Onboarding is the time to set yourself up for success as you launch into your next career opportunity. It is an uncertain time. It is an exciting time.
Make it an experience you will not forget. Neither will your company.