If you want to maintain your company culture as your company grows, it’s very important that new employees fully internalise it when they join your company.
To do this, you need to ensure that the key culture touch points are integrated into your employee onboarding process successfully. Below are a few actionable ways to ensure this happens, and how to make the most of the onboarding process from a company culture perspective.
This is the first and most important step. Every new employee should be 100% clear on the company’s mission, values and goals before they begin to work.
Company Mission: Your company’s mission statement need only be a paragraph, or even a single sentence, but it should clearly communicate why your company exists. If you haven’t fully thought this through, watching this Ted talk is a great place to start.
Company Goals: Your goals also need to be clearly communicated because you want each new employee to be aware of the big picture. It’s a great idea to put down your short, medium and long term goals – as well as your overarching BHAG – for the new employee to read. We do our 5 and 20 year goals, plus our BHAG.
The short term goals help the person get a sense of the work they’re needed to do immediately, and the long term goals help them see how it all fits into the big picture.
Values: Ensure that your internal company values are in writing and clearly communicated to the new recruit. Wherever possible, it’s best to have concrete and real-life examples of your values. For example, if one of your values is ‘conscientiousness’, then a real-life example would be “we haven’t had an employee be late to a meeting in the last month”.
In the interest of saving time, it’s often best to have a video and a set of culture documents you share with new employees, rather than having to sit down with them each time, which brings us to the next point…
If you don’t already have one, a culture manifesto is something you should consider putting together. Basically, it’s your company’s culture bible – with all the facets and important elements of your cultured contained in it.
A culture manifesto comes in very useful as your company grows, and will help keep culture uniformity, even when you open offices in different locations.
Your culture manifesto should contain a summary of your company’s culture, your mission, company goals and values, as well as things like your ‘ideal employee blueprint’ and real-life examples of the ways your culture is embodied.
It’s also a nice idea to give new employees some ideas on ways they can embody the culture within their first few weeks of working for you – for example, we encourage new employees to challenge the way we do things, question anything and not to be afraid to challenge the way we operate or enter into debates with senior members, in spite of being new to the company. This is an embodiment of our “challenge and be challenged” value, and it’s something new employees can get started with right away.
Collecting insights from your new employees can be really valuable from a culture perspective. They are looking at everything with fresh eyes, so it’s worthwhile asking them how they perceive the culture when they joined.
This can help you and your leadership team see how well the culture is integrated and can potentially highlight things that you may not have noticed.
For more details on the best ways to track and measure your company culture, give this a read.
It’s great to have all your culture onboarding documents templatized, but there should also be a point in the process where they can speak to the culture leader in the team.
This gives them a chance to ask any questions and catch up on anything they’re unclear on, as well as giving them a point of contact with the culture manager.
The person who meets with them should also be responsible for communicating how culture is measured and what they should do if they have a problem or concern at any point.
The only way to get new employees to take your company culture seriously is to show them how seriously you take it.
Our final advice is: don’t leave culture onboarding at the onboarding stage.
You should ensure that you check in with the new employee again in a week, and a month and a year (and more) ensure they’re still on track.
Let them know how they’re doing, and what values of cultural qualities they’re nailing, as well as where there is room for improvement.
Keeping the conversation going well passed the point of them being a ‘new employee’ will ensure they have the best chance to flourish.
The junior you hired today could end up running her department in just a few short years, and even if she doesn’t – never underestimate the influence of one bad egg. Studies on both students and adults have shown that introducing one person with undesirable traits into a group of responsible ones doesn’t fix the one problem person, it actually makes the entire group slightly worse.
The advice above will help ensure your onboarding process is successful in integrating your new employees into the culture, and the benefits will be well worth the effort.