Many startups don’t have a formal on-boarding process, yet you're expected to start contributing on your first week. Here's how to set yourself up for success.
“Your fresh perspective is one of the most valuable things you bring.”
Great reminder to speak up sooner rather than later when you start a new job. Don’t discount your initial thoughts—they’re one of your best assets.
Wes - I revisit each of your pieces. There is a book here somewhere <3
I really like this advice.
I've been building onboarding experiences for many years in L&D teams and this is the essentials. I would add getting time on others calendars too. This helps you build your internal network but also get a sense of culture, and diverse views on how the organisation works.
This was such a timely and actionable piece for me. Thank you!
Great post! And I think this goes for jobs beyond start-up land as well. Thanks!
Thanks Wes. Great insights! Aligns well with my current day job at a large company where I'm onboarding myself. Your article helps me to frame things in the right way.
And I'm curious to know what happened in that meeting at Bare Escentuals, where you were asked to lead. How did you manage it?
This must be a mandate for those who want to start working in a startup!
I can relate to my experience when I switched from a cushy corporate job to startups and the culture shock was jarring.
Initially I used to wonder if I made the wrong decision joining this company or blaming people - why can't they be like this/that.
But then I realized no one was wrong - they are different. That stopped the blame game and gave me a sense of control on what I can do. (Kind of like Anne Hathway in The Devil Wears Prada 💃)
We own our onboarding, we own our careers!
It was a nice perspective Wes to start by actively building a map. Your post reminded me of "the 3 maps" that Tanya Reilly talks about in her book "The Staff Engineer's Path"
- Build a map about your product and your customers
- Build a map of your org and dynamics
- And build a map about the vision you are heading towards
The topic I was not expecting in your blog was developing a point of view. I have been reluctant to show an opinion when learning and I have always prioritized questions. But with the right communication skills (and respecting what came before), I think I can pull it off with more proactive opinions and not only questions. I'll definitely try it out, I'd love to read more about the topic
Thanks for sharing!
This is a timely read, thank you! I'm somewhat on the other side -- a community professional setting up our new onboarding process. Would you have previous essays or tweets on this topic, Wes? Much appreciated!
Typical onboarding consists of a morning filling out the benefits paperwork and then a lunch with your new manager or perhaps your team.
If you are lucky, your company has some sort of onboarding process and perhaps your boss has created a short plan of who you should meet and key meetings to attend.
By contrast, every time a US Army officer changes jobs they get 4 to 6 weeks of dedicated education which covers:
(A) Current top challenges the Army faces overall (context for the new job).
(B) Technology changes (new weapons, new enemies, cyberwarfare, etc.).
(C) And everything the officer needs to take on the job successfully.
4 things you can take from this:
(1) Read The First 90 Days if you are changing roles.
(2) Ask your new boss about the onboarding plan and prompt them for help.
(3) As the new hire onboarding, proactively provide your manager a 90-day plan to kickstart ideas, feedback, and the process. Saying "Doing XYZ will help me get up to speed faster" helps the manager move faster and unlock blockers (e.g. you need to meet with ABC, I'll intro you now).
(4) If you are hiring, consider what more you can do to onboard your hires. Tacos alone are not enough!
In the past I thought “oh I must not get this part of the product because I’m new.” But if you think a UX flow is confusing, or landing page messaging isn’t clear, new customers will likely have the same reaction. Leads and customers aren’t as incentivized to stay and figure it out either--if they’re confused, they often simply bounce. When you speak up, you give your team a chance to see through a beginner’s eyes and make it instantly obvious what users should do.