In my last blog, we discussed the onboarding process. In this article we will discuss 10 ways to welcome new hires into your awesome team. When facing the daunting task of creating a positive company culture, many turn to formulas as an aid in decision-making. There is an alternative: use employees’ own internal resources to create a truly stellar set of company values. Once that is done, however, you must do the work to bring new hires to understand those values and the unique circumstances present in your awesome team. How to acculturate new hires? Read on to find out.
Welcoming New Hires
Having a unique set of values comes with its own challenges: you will face initial employee disbelief when going through the first weeks of employee training. Can it really be done this way? It can, but you’ve got to get people to believe it! It’s deprogramming people from what they expect. At The Cecily Group, we’re just different; the way we work together is different, there’s a ripple effect in our design… there are calm moments and big rushes of productivity. Other people might feel uncomfortable with that. We take the temperature of the group and ask: “How is everybody feeling?”
That might be a little too kum-bay-ya for some people, but we’re trying to build this legacy group. It’s hard for people to understand that straight away and even to believe it. Some people need time to adjust to the environment and even to believe that it’s really true. So what are the specific steps one needs to take in order to achieve that sense of belief?
Entrepreneurial thinking is first and foremost when looking for top qualities in a new hire. Every single hour you have is valuable and you’re taking a lot of risk, so you need people with a certain amount of empathy, who can put themself in the bosses’ shoes. You need people who respect other people’s roles and the time and care they put into their work.
Another aspect of entrepreneurial thinking and one of our company values is being innovative and looking for new ways to do things. Depending on their personality and their role, the average employee is not often asked what they think or given a choice in regard to strategic decisions or innovations. We try to highlight whatever people are good at in the form of unique abilities and create a strategy how they can best play a role going forward. This requires flexibility and the ability to adapt and grow—even though we might not have the full picture just yet. Employees should understand company strategy without being burdened or overwhelmed by it. The awareness allows them to make the best-informed decisions while prioritizing work and solving problems for the awesome team.
Connection to the Big Picture
Second, each person’s individual role needs to link back to the values. Each employee should have a full understanding of the connection and expectation that their role has to the values. That way, understanding of how an employee’s role contributes to the overall well-being of the group can create logical and emotional stepping-stones of understanding which bridge the gap between a new employee and the team.
There should be a continuity to the information shared by the awesome team. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the values allow us a basis from which all decisions are made. We check back in on our values every quarter, vetting whether or not we are living the highest version of them we can, as a group. When people feel that their contribution is making a difference to the company, their motivation increases many times over and keeps renewing, even in the face of great obstacles. Through this process, they become experts—which leads us to our next point:
Be your own Expert
When someone takes on a role with us, they need to develop expertise in that role and be willing to share that expertise with others. If you have that feeling, as stated in point 2, that the role that you are doing is important to other people, you feel part of the team and you feel like you know what your contribution is. When we set out to create a role and hire someone to do it, we are aware that people come in all sorts of packages with differing unique abilities and previous experiences which shape them as a whole. We don’t just see the pros and cons of hiring someone, but how their soft skills and willingness to share can add value to the awesome team.
We are constantly working on our relationships with each other, checking in and going the distance to make sure that everyone has their time to shine. It is my opinion that you learn the most about someone when you ask them to teach you what they know. Our shared knowledge is part of the “legacy-think” and a vital way to grow our relationships and personal communication skills.
If you don’t have internal branding in your company, the company culture gets created “in the smoking room”. In my previous experience, if you wanted to know what people really thought about the company culture or strategic decisions, you would hang out where people smoke. Often, employees didn’t feel empowered or welcome to add their input. You don’t want to have the culture created by those individuals with dominant personalities, who will create their own storyline. That’s the last thing you want to have happen, because they will destroy morale. Being transparent with employees is very important, but requesting their active input raises the commitment to the company and the engagement they have with the direction things are going.
The way we set our values does just that. We express our expectations openly and ask that our employees reevaluate their level of commitment on a regular basis. This requires actively taking in their feedback. We have to find ways to show that feedback is being considered and worked on in ways that promote change and the betterment of the awesome team. One way we have achieved this is to ask for anonymous feedback in the form of a survey. We asked pertinent questions relating to our values. The questions that came back on the lower end will be addressed on a quarterly basis in the form of Dangers, Opportunities and Strengths.
Culture and Abilities
If you stay on top of culture and abilities, things just come together. Everyone has each other’s backs. However, that can only happen if you’re staying in touch with people and you know what’s going on with them. When something happens, you need to already have a relationship with your employees so that you can deal with stuff as it comes up. When we win, we win as a group. Our achievements are always an achievement by the awesome team and not by an individual. When we fail, we fail with so much style that we can learn from it and move on.
Naturally, we don’t always get it right. But if that happens, everybody is expected to raise a hand so we can – together – improve our awesome team. It’s always the values at the end of the day that shape our culture and our unique abilities that allow us to adapt to the changing landscape. We are excited about the future and want to make it better together.
Excited to learn, ready to resonate
The culture that we are creating is that everyone is a self-starter, and everyone amplifies each other. Something else that is unique to us is that everyone who works for us is very willing and excited to take on a new role, to learn new things. Taking on people who are curious in the first place, and who seems to have a little internal “motor” running, is key. These kind of people will figure out how to solve problems themselves, rather than becoming dependent on a higher-up to solve everything for them.
From the employer’s standpoint we are always looking for new ways to explore and highlight the various skills of our awesome team. Whether it be via external trainings or internal ones inside the group the focus is always on getting better and adding value. Some changes might not happen for a number of years, yet we keep an eye out for opportunities and invest our time and energy into getting to know the wants and needs of our employees.
Clearly worded Values, Mission and Vision
Welcoming a new hire also takes some after-care. Each new employee will have questions about how to behave from time to time. By taking the time to define and write down the company values, mission, and vision, each employee will have a handy reference for the company culture, and a center point on their decision-making compass –a place to start from. At The Cecily Group, we have a deliberate and conscious focus on reviewing and considering each of these three things at each quarterly meeting, both to see if what we have written down still makes sense for us in light of new developments, and to compare our performance in each category against that of other quarters.
We have a very very strong set of values, not just the corporate values, but values that really resonate with everyone. They go in the dashboard. Each quarter, one value gets highlighted.
Team Success Handbook
Another essential part of our acculturation process is our team success handbook. Potential hires are requested to read it and write a reflection on how they can fit into our team, which shows who wants to go the extra mile, and who just does 15 job applications in an hour. We don’t want the people who aren’t interested in learning and investing, who just want a 9-to-5. We want lateral thinkers who are excited and curious learners. The time new employees take to write about themselves as part of the team is crucial to assuring their investment and commitment to the common company purpose, and to pointing the way towards those people who are aligned with our values in the first place.
The ability to be introspective, express your opinion and take a risk saying how you really feel is very valuable to our company. In truth you could use any book or story for this exercise. It’s very telling who takes the time to complete the exercise and how much effort they put into it. The reward for completing it is much more than being offered a job interview, it’s the respect and honor that we show to those people who do make the effort. And it is a chance to show more than just your work experience in black and white on an A4 piece of paper. We truly want to know who you are, what you think about the world and your expectations of it.
Letting go and Building Trust
Getting people to let go of old prejudices is really important. People will have had experiences from previous employers and old relationships that they need to let go of, to learn to trust, and truly cooperate. There are a lot of mistrustful behaviors which can be detrimental; building trust through reliability and follow-through, and allowing people the freedom to speak their minds is essential. I’m sure that we have all had this feeling that we are just a cog in the wheel, clocking in and out and not really having any impact or that the work we do is meaningful. Gone are the days of time for money.
At The Cecily Group, our focus is a lasting legacy and that goes for our employees as well. Our opinions and vision for our world help to shape the environment that we all work and live in every day. Everyone should have a feeling of accomplishment and wellbeing.
Functioning Communication: Pathways and Tools
How does a team and a company achieve functioning communication?
Have a dashboard
Create a dashboard with the values, mission and vision, as described above. That means there is already a structure and people know where they stand. Because we are a self-managing company, the values help us align ourselves, adjust expectations, and be critical and self-critical without damaging anyone’s reputation or self-esteem.
Offer enough opportunities to communicate. At The Cecily Group, since we are a remote company, we have weekly Monday morning team meeting via GoToMeeting, use Slack to catch each other’s attention, and use Trello to organize tasks.
Avoid having people just smile and nod. Test your values and keep prodding for feedback. Get people to go out and talk in front of other people and ask people to give a little bit more, to give that added value. If they are allowed to think for themselves and invest their own ideas into the group’s actions, they will be ten times as motivated to follow through and overcome obstacles. This might be a shock to the system at first but eventually it becomes a routine, and the employee becomes used to giving their opinion and feedback. It also helps us better learn how to communicate in a crisis. If you are used to getting and giving feedback you will better be able to receive that information in a non-emotional way and together find solutions that work for the group.
Nobody is allowed to rest on their laurels. Constantly reevaluate how you can do things better and consider a different direction. Try out the new directions the team considers and see if they work. There are so many cases where people say: “It’s fine as it is”. We at The Cecily Group are not at all like that. Getting that sort of attitude is key to our acculturation process. We also offer the possibility to have a regular “lunch” with our founder. Due to Covid-19 these lunches have been a bit postponed. The intention of the lunch is to talk about “You” the employee. Together shaping a strategy for your role, expanding it and adapting it as the company grows. This half-yearly check in is so important for morale and also to realign using the values in case someone might get a bit off track. These face-to-face casual come-togethers are a crucial part of acculturation.
Keeping these ten things in mind, you will soon find yourself well on the way to the successful acculturation of new hires, which after all is the only way to succeed as a company! Happy hiring!
The Cecily Group’s Entrepreneurial Tool
With our Entrepreneurial Tool, we will offer people regular trainings and develop culture and abilities through that. You need to pick up people who are willing to invest in the company and to take on extra tasks. Our Entrepreneurial Tool (currently in development) will make the acculturation of new hires a breeze.