Company culture seems to be all the rage these days, and that’s not without merit. Weaving the fabric of a strong company culture can be vital to the success of a company. More importantly, it has the ability to dictate whether or not the long-term growth will be relatively stable, or collapse over time. Company culture is intrinsically focused on the internal aspects of a company, but I think there’s one aspect company culture often forgets to take into account: the newcomer.
Back about a year ago, I joined a startup as CMO and the only other person working on the project. As then-founders, one of our first conversations was about company culture. Everything from the type of employees we wanted to hire, to the philosophical beliefs about the company, the design of the future office space, and where we saw the company in 5 years (from a culture perspective).
After that conversation, it dawned on me just how important (and early) company culture should be for just about any business. Over the years, and as a consultant, I have had the opportunity to be a part of several different work cultures. Varying anywhere from a few weeks to several months at a time, these windows into a company’s culture provided such an interesting snapshot of not just what the existing culture was like, but how any given group adapted to a new member (even if temporary).
Here are five things I have noticed that I would deem as important to a company culture when bringing in a newcomer:
1. A BIG WELCOME
It’s strangly odd for a new person to come into a company/department and not a single person knows who you are besides the person in charge or hiring manager. This makes it awkward for both parties! Get the new hire well-acquainted (division for larger company, everyone for a startup/smaller company) with whom the other people he/she will be working.
2. REMOVE (MOST) OF THE GUESS WORK
There’s nothing more iritating than when a new hire is brought into a fresh work environment, sat down at a desk on his/her first day, then told to “get to work” with a vague list of objectives (at best). That doesn’t set anyone up for success. You’ve invested in a new hire, now give him a chance to show off what he can do!
3. GET YOUR ONBOARDING STRAIGHT
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point but a bit more granular. Things like having the email set up, making sure the new hire has proper access to applications, logins…IE the things needed to do the job. Why wait till the day of? By creating a smooth onboaring system, you’re showing that you care about the arrival of the new hire and his/her success in their role and the company. Making this a haphazard process shows an acute amount of disorganization on the operational side of things and will make your new hire wonder whether or not it was the right decision to join.
4. ENCOURAGE INTERACTION
People spend much time at work, so it would make sense that you should get to know your coworers a bit. It’s incredible how many companies don’t encourage coworkers (again same department, or broader if a small company) to get to know each other. Now, much of this may be organic if new hire is outgoing, but what if he/she isn’t? Sooner or later, people around new hire will begin to feel a bit uneasy not knowing who their coworker is. Provide an outlet for this.
5. BE CLEAR ABOUT EXPECTATIONS
Although this is likely laid out during the hiring process, the first day/week can seem a bit nebulous if it’s not laid out correctly. The last thing you want is a new hire coming into a job without a clearly defined path to success. You’re breeding doubt right away. Don’t let it get to that. Create a list for new hire to hit the ground running and start strong. This includes tasks, deadlines, workflows, etc.
Lastly, there’s the dreaded nepotism. Nepotism is likely more found in family-run companies, but it can happen anywhere where the core unit of a company becomes more exclusive that inclusive. This makes it incredibly difficult for new hires so break into the company culture. It feels like Junior High all over again. Don’t make this mistake.
Overall, these are just my opinions and observations from past experiences. If you have your own thoughts, or maybe disagree entirely, feel free to share your notes in the comments section below.