Personal Diaries (Alex) - Onboarding

4 minute read

Alex Batoryk-Leliw

A personal look into being a new joiner the right way, the Countingup experience.

As long as companies exist, onboarding will exist. The method of which must cater to the nature and size of the business therefore comparing like for like between companies would be unhelpful. The process of ‘learning’ a business also wildly differs. I want to take a few minutes to run through my onboarding experiences, what makes the process and how Countingup have defined it.

There are a few commonalities that all must share to give a basic understanding during your first few days/weeks. These are namely:

  1. A deep-dive into the company
  2. Learning to perform for your job
  3. Getting to know your colleagues

For those who refer to a company as a ‘person’, think of these three processes as the brain, limbs and blood respectively. Strange analogy, but for me, it helps demonstrate the main functional requirement of starting the process of onboarding. In essence, it boils down to learning the company, how you can contribute through your job role and having colleagues to help through that process.

Without a doubt the easiest of the three is the third. In between pre-scheduled meetups, coffee chats and proactive messages, there are always enough friendly colleagues to network with. However the other two can be tricky to get right and arguably it can have an effect on your productivity in the short-medium term if not done well; taking longer to become an effective team member.

With a larger company, I found it’s very easy to get ‘lost’ in the sea of information and documentation so it’s difficult to fully understand the business. Whilst at a smaller company, person-power investment can be required to effectively get someone ‘set-up’.

As for Countingup, with around 60 colleagues when I joined, my experience touched upon each of these three core components in a positive way. The simplest mechanism to explain is through the Onboarding Trello board that a new joiner gets on Day 1.

The mechanism is simple and effective. You track your progress for various ‘streams’ of work; your own little to-do board if you will. These cover the introductions, the check-ins and the admin of getting started. Just having it explicitly stated helped me manage my time effectively in the first few days.

Looking back at the three core essentials of successfully onboarding, these steps were taken (and tracked on the board of course) to ensure productivity.

  1. Introduction and product discussion with all levels of the product structure. This allows understanding the overarching strategy is, as well as how we get there from a day-to-day perspective. Worth acknowledging there were only two in my case; Product Manager and CCO.
  2. Having a buddy on your team who guides you through the day-to-day of the team, as well as answering all your questions. A common good-use method especially with a colleague who has been present for a while, as you can pick up all sorts of tidbits.
  3. Recommended meet-ups, and an organisation chart which lets you hand-pick those you wish to communicate further with. Company culture is way out of scope for this, but having an inclusive and communicative one can provide confidence and comfort you can chat/message with anyone.

With a proactive approach to managing your meetings, you can continue the flow of conversation with other colleagues in the business who you may not interact with on the day-to-day, but whom it’s great to build your network with.

Big shout-out to my colleagues who helped me learn Countingup 🙌