Like video, onboarding at a new company is hard. You don’t know where anything is. You need to create a dizzying number of logins to scores of new tools. And all the while, there’s an unspoken pressure to prove to yourself and to your team that everyone made the right choice.
Add to this a global pandemic where you’re not likely to meet anyone in your company face to face for a while, and we arrive at a whole new level of challenging.
While a new opportunity is exciting (even during Covid), actually making the leap can feel daunting at best. How do you build trust with people you’ve never met in person? How do you know if you’re making the right choice? How do you ramp up remotely? And how do you make progress to accomplish something in the first 90 days?
At Mux, we’ve put a lot of thought into onboarding and our goal is to have every new hire fully ramped in 90 days, regardless of whether you’re working from the office, from home, or somewhere in between.
Before the pandemic, we had the luxury of bringing new hires to one of our offices to spend their first week onboarding with the team. There was still a lot to think through to ensure folks were set up for success, but there was also more flexibility in person for impromptu meetings and shadowing. Plus, there was much more opportunity to meet people from other parts of the org.
In the past year, like all companies, we’ve had to rethink how we set people up for success in their first 90 days - virtually. We are in an exciting stage of intense growth (video is the place to be these days) and we need to add great people to just about every corner of the organization.
What have we come up with? At ~80 people (and counting), we’re still a scrappy startup, but our approach to new hire onboarding is structured and intentional, with guard rails in place for each new hire.
So how does our People Ops team help our new employees get onboard, acclimated, and making progress towards their goals in the first 90 days? Here are some of the ways we approach each phase of the onboarding process:
Our preparation begins well before our new hires ever set foot in an office - or, nowadays, 👋 in a Slack channel. Before you start, we send a simple form for you to select your prefered equipment from a generous tech and WFH offering that mimics the Mux in-office setup. This includes the latest Mac laptops, but also options like curved monitors, standing desks, Aeron chairs, and the list goes on. We don't want to give away surprises for any future Muxologists reading this - but there are other goodies sent directly to your door that first week too.
While we’re ordering your equipment, we’re also setting things up on the backend. We've heard consistent feedback that logging in for the first time and seeing prescheduled 1:1s and meetings on the calendar is much preferred to alternatives like being given a list of who you should meet with. To reduce the burden on our new hires, People Ops serves as your onboarding facilitator, working with your hiring manager to determine the first month’s worth of meetings, shadowing sessions, and meet & greets. If a peer buddy will be helpful, we’ll coordinate that too.
As a fun way to introduce you to the team, we’ll also ask you to share 2 truths and a lie, which we post Slack on your first day so people can vote on which one they think is a lie.
Which brings us to...
Here’s where the fun really begins! Our first priority is welcoming you - both to the team, and to our technology and processes. Instead of packing your Monday with back-to-back meetings, we spread our onboarding 101 sessions across a few weeks to give you some time in between to digest, and plug away at your onboarding task list. We also pepper in key 1:1s and founder meet and greets (for now they’re Zooms, but we can’t wait until these are taking place over coffee by our San Francisco HQ or tea near our London office).
By the end of your first week, you can expect to have covered all the basics including access to our systems, company documentation in Notion, new-to-video resources for nontechnical hires, and nuts and bolts.
As you work from home, it can actually be harder to feel at home, at work. So we place a lot of emphasis on culture this first week too. We encourage our new team members to join our weekly Hot Sauce Happy Hours and Show and Tells, where anyone can present either an in depth topic or a quick show-off of something they’re proud of. We also stay connected on Friday mornings by joining our London team for Tea Time. Like onboarding sessions and key 1:1s, these events are all pre-added to your calendar. As our team grows so do our time zone differences, so we’re looking for new ways to bring geographically inclusive team building options to the schedule.
Each hiring manager crafts a 90-day plan that includes projects spanning the first three months as well as quick wins that can help you contribute to the success of the team early on.
The first month is focused on getting to know the company, the products, the team, and your role. You’ll have a check-in with your manager every 30 days, in addition to regular 1:1s, to go over your onboarding experience, progress toward projects, and build a habit of giving and receiving feedback.
After your first month, you’ll meet with People Ops and give us feedback from your onboarding experience. What aspects were most helpful? What areas can we improve? Do you have your insurance ID cards? These meetings are insightful and lead to actionable feedback. For example, we heard that folks would like to take the onboarding sessions again after six months or so, like continued education. It’s hard to remember everything you learn in the first month! So, we added our onboarding sessions to the company calendar, and encourage folks to join whenever they need a refresher.
After your first 90 days are complete, you’ll have career conversations - a series of three meaningful dialogues between managers and direct reports that yield a clear understanding of an employee’s vision for their career, coupled with an action plan with concrete ways we can help you get there. Career conversations help build strong relationships between managers and their teams by providing insights into where and how people want to grow. This in turn strengthens culture and retention. If your day-to-day does not align with your goals for your future, your vision for yourself, or your values, you are likely to leave the company. But when you have a clear sense of where you’re headed and know you’re supported on that path, you are likely to be engaged and motivated to contribute to team success in meaningful ways. We want to invest in each person at Mux and career conversations help us do that.
And what are we hoping to accomplish with our onboarding process? Ensuring each new hire feels oriented, engaged, and productive by 90 days in, whether we’ve met in person or not.
Are we perfect at this? Nope.
But we’re really interested in learning and asking for feedback to help us get better.
The past year has stretched us in a bunch of ways - all of which we were able to grow from. The People Ops team learned how to pivot quickly, focus on what’s right for the team above what’s easy, and how to support a remote workforce effectively. These learnings will stay with us after the pandemic is over. Workplaces are becoming more remote and we’ll be prepared for how to handle that well given the work we’ve done this year.