Onboarding in times of Corona
This blog article is written by our new Marketing Specialist Micha. During his onboarding, he found himself in a unique position. Instead of slowly taking over more responsibility over time, we asked Micha to manage all marketing channels for Dotbite from day one. Additionally, Micha introduced his newest colleague in marketing only two weeks after joining himself — all while the majority of staff were working remotely from home. Quite a task.
Where to start?
Joining a new team and taking over new tasks has always been challenging. However, this phase appears to be yet more difficult when most of the team you’re joining is not physically in the office with you. Companies that have been in the fortunate position to hire new employees during the crisis know that remote onboarding contains some difficulties. So, where do you start? Obviously, this will differ for everyone, but for me personally, the starting point always is my desk and to make myself comfortable. I’m not talking about cluttering my working space with photos and memorabilia though. Instead, I have found myself to be most productive when having all things I might need during the workday at hand. This includes organization apps, programs, and logins.
When all the basic needs are fulfilled, you best learn swimming by getting thrown in at the deep end. After all, the best way to learn is by taking on responsibility for a real project. Because Dotbite had grown so much, it needed a rebrand, a new website, social media channels, and more, so my to-do list was full of real projects from day one.
This blog article will most likely not result in a step-by-step guide to onboarding (there are companies that are better suited to do this anyway) because Dotbite found itself in a unique situation. After a tumultuous year filled with uncertainties due to Corona but landing a massive project like LEAD Horizon, our team grew by a third, with team members working remotely from different cities. And it’s not over yet; we are still looking for reinforcements (apply here). Within this period of growth, my colleague Julia arrived only two weeks after I had joined. So from one day to another, I moved from being a student to becoming a teacher.
Thankfully, new employees usually already have experience in the field they were hired in. In Julia’s case, she had experience in social media management and content marketing with a focus on startups. Therefore, from day one onwards, Julia took over creating a LinkedIn page for Dotbite and managing all social media channels for timebite. This was her deep end.
Once the first couple of weeks and the early phase of getting to know Dotbite were over, we split responsibilities according to our strengths and preferences. Together we built a timeline with tasks and goals for the near future, creating a solid base for our further work. This plan also involved throwing hand-me-downs and old, never realized ideas out of the window. Additionally, having our development team as a role model, we started implementing a SCRUM framework to our marketing plan, working in one-week sprints.
The remarkable part is that after less than two months, we had complete creative ownership over the whole marketing agenda, full trust over strategy and implementation, and plenty of room to learn on the fly. How did we get there?
Throughout the onboarding process, ongoing communication has been an essential constant. Daily standups, where we brief the connected teams about our daily tasks, jour fixes, and regular in-person and digital contact with other team members, ensured everyone knew about the distribution of responsibilities, plans, and goals.
This continuous communication also allowed us to ask questions as they came up. Trust me, there were a lot. But as Adrian, one of our founders, always says: “a question is only stupid when asked for the second time”. Additionally, it ensured that everyone involved or impacted in our projects was always up to date and could easily introduce a change of course if needed.
Next to communication, documenting the work done is incredibly important. When so many of the work processes occur through verbal communication, there is no way around well-structured documentation of the individual steps. Decisions and procedures must be traceable even weeks and months after the end of the project.
A positive side effect that arises from this open and continuous communication is a healthy company culture. Even when our office is hardly occupied due to the Corona situation, many team members see and hear each other several times a day, which significantly benefits team building. This positive company culture combined with good teamwork leads to solidarity, ambition, and helpfulness. Last but not least, sharing problems, solutions, mistakes, and success leads each employee to identify with the company on another level.
The goal of onboarding is to turn new arrivals into motivated, involved, and self-reliant team members. At Dotbite, we give much responsibility to every employee from the beginning and talk a lot. In my case, this strategy worked very well because it’s not the company I work for anymore, but simply we.