I’m two weeks into my new role with Public Digital and I wanted to share some reflections on how much of a difference a good onboarding process makes.
I’m astonished at how smooth and gentle a landing the team (and expecially the marvellous Diane Parker-Wood) has designed for new joiners.
Technology: Ahead of my first (remote) day, my laptop, keyboard, mouse and stand arrived by courier. PD’s choice to use some really nice remote device management software meant that everything I needed (including wifi login for the office later that week) was installed and configured — and I still got to have that special feeling breaking the cellophane and unboxing a brand new laptop.
Learning the ropes: their impressive and light-touch knowledge management made such a difference for me. It shouldn’t be so surprising as this is a genuine learning organisation — but to be honest, I’ve never been lucky enough to work anywhere before that actually, consistently practised double- and triple-loop learning at an org-wide level. Because they do this, there is a library of well-curated and current information about what and how they did/do/plan to do — as well as who they are as a company, and what that means in terms of vision, values, principles and strategy. I love that they’re able to tell the story of how they have iterated the company and their practice so clearly — they’re really taking their own medicine.
Meeting the team: I arrived on day one to find a calendarful of activity that would see me spending this first fortnight talking to two or three new people each day. Excepting people on holiday, I’ve spoken to all the founding partners, and people operating all the corporate and enabling functions in the firm. I’ve spoken to people leading client engagements across different sectors and in different countries. I’ve had incredibly helpful chats with a super-talented peer who kindly volunteered to be my “work buddy” and can see myself regularly dropping into his DMs to pick his brain over the coming months.
That sort of remote roadshow will have taken a lot of organising for sure — but I don’t think I’ve experienced anything quite so effective at simultaneously immersing me in the “stuff” of an organisation and building important future relationships. It was topped off yesterday by my first visit to the office — I’ll typically working in Farringdon, not Croxley, on Thursdays. It could have been a lot more daunting but because of preceding days’ meetings it felt easy, like meeting people I already knew. It helps, of course, that they’re all so darned lovely.
And not just superficially lovely.
I needed to see if I could really be me here. If I could share (relatively) unvarnished thoughts without it being a problem. If I could ask awkward questions on uncomfortable topics and hear in response respect, reflection, pragmatism and a self-aware determination to do better.
You really do have to be true to yourself at the start of a new role, push aside that doubt. It’s important to test limits, explore boundaries. Probation periods aren’t just for them to try you out — they’re there for you too. There’s no point showing your true colours in month 4.
So I showed my colours. And so far, this lot seem to really quite like them.