After two years of post-pandemic, work-from-home life, Liquid has continued their operations virtually- in home offices, on couches, with dogs on our laps and cats walking on our keyboards. The office is still an option for staff and client meetings, and it offers a hub for us to feel connected to. I onboarded as a Project Manager at Liquid in February 2022, totally virtual. Having only been here for about 7 months now, it feels like years. Not in the, “it feels like years” when you're hangry waiting for your food kind of way, but in the, “it feels like years” when you meet someone new, and you both just click kind of way.
I could contribute this experience to my dazzling personality, but I must give credit where credit is due, and that is to my onboarding experience.
So, what does it take to not only have a successful onboarding experience to begin with, but a virtual one?
Slack is the place where we keep all our internal chats. Think: Skype or Teams. If you’re talking to your co-workers, it’s through Slack. It takes the "corporateness" out of daily communication and offers a casual, fun way to collaborate! Instead of sending a dry message via *cough cough* any other service, when asking a co-worker how the ads are coming along that they are designing, I can send this-
I will still get the same response, but the interaction went from a 2 to a 7 by just sending a gif.
That Brings Me to Gifs & Emojis
I feel confident to say that I laugh every dang day. Might be due to my immature sense of humor, but I laugh because we can find a gif or emoji for every occasion. This fun way of communicating takes place of the personal items you’d see decorating someone’s desk, or the lunchtime outings and cubical giggles. Whether that’s assigning specific emojis to a certain person or sending Gordon Ramsey's GET OUT gif when someone responds while on PTO.
Personally, I experienced this, and I have never felt so unwanted in a loving way.
Key take away: No matter what internal communication platform you use, allow fun to be had in a welcoming and positive manner.
OK, OK, enough of the millennial description of working in 2022.
Sounds like they are just slack-ing off 😉 But in all seriousness, the onboarding process was successful because of the time and work management put into it.
Having a Clear Meeting Cadence with Your Manager
While onboarding, I had daily check-ins with my manager to provide daily tasks, review my previous day’s work, platform and process walk-throughs, and dedicate time to answer all my questions. This set-up immediately opened the communication
highway, no freeway, with my manager. We transitioned out of the daily check-ins but still have weekly team check-ins and monthly one-to-one meetings.
While onboarding, he provided me with the pieces of the puzzle and the picture for reference. My responsibility was to put it all together, which I felt empowered to do. Like anything, it took time, but a few things helped accelerate it.
Key take away: Managers, train your new hires. Invest time in them upfront so the learning curve is shorter and less steep.
So, what does your day to day look like? Shadow! I attended internal meetings and client meetings of all topics and purposes. This helped so much because not only did I just attend meetings, but my teammates walked me through prep and follow-up, giving me a well-rounded understanding of processes critical to my job.
Communication style differs from co-worker to co-worker and project to project. So, I was able to witness all of this, add my own personal style and grace, and mix it up to produce the right style for me.
Key take away: Allow peer-to-peer training.
Trust to do the job. Once I began demonstrating that I knew what I was doing - that I was applying what I had been taught, my manager and teammates trusted me.
Support from the top down. Having your boss’s boss check-in with you multiple times after you received a difficult project, means a lot.
Key take away: Trust your employees after demonstrated success.
Open to Feedback and Follow-through
Feedback for anything is always important but what matters most is the follow-through. My manager asked for feedback on my virtual onboarding – what worked, what didn’t, what did I need more of? I provided thoughtful responses, but he actually implemented some of my suggestions for our next hire and team-wide.
Key take away: Listen to your team and act.
Meeting with Department Heads
Within my first few weeks I had a meet and great with our President, CFO, Executive VP, and each department head. Not only did this show that they took interest in a new employee at the company, but it also provided the opportunity to describe what they and their team do - and how I can expect us to work together.
Key take away: Make an effort to reach out to new employees.
Video. Video. Video.
Having multiple calls everyday is more fun when you see who you’re actually talking to. It’s tough to put faces to names when you don’t see each other in the office but seeing your co-workers on camera everyday helps with that!
We all have days when we don’t feel our best, so the camera isn’t turned on and that’s OK! No one makes us put our cameras on, but for the most part, this helped me connect with my co-workers tremendously.
Of course, we all have the same common experience with virtual meetings-
I’m going to shareee myyy screeeennn…… okay, can you see it?!
You’re breaking up. You’re glitching. You’re frozen. Can you hear me?
Oh no, you go ahead. No, you go ahead. [Starts speaking at the same exact time] What I was going to sa-
I’m going to hang up and come back in. I have to restart.
Key take away: Wi-Fi issues aside, be on camera as much as you can.
Lastly, But Most Important, Great People = Great Culture
Simply put, Liquid is made up of great people. All the above can exist in one way or another at a company, but if you don’t have the right people in the right places, none if it will be effective. Creating a culture of collaboration, honesty, accountability, and fun; one that shares success and failures; hosts virtual and in-person events is a company that not only successfully virtually onboards, but one that will attract and retain the best.
We are all on the same team. Working towards the same goal.