Set up for success: How 8 Chicago companies help acclimate new hires

by Alton Zenon III
October 17, 2018

Everyone remembers the anxiety that comes with trying to make a good impression during their first few weeks at a new job. Adept companies have not forgotten what that feeling is like, which is why they devote time and resources to making new hires feel comfortable in their new roles. 

We spoke to leaders from eight companies about their tactics in setting up their new recruits for personal and professional success. Check out their insights below. 

 

Braintree team taking team photo together
image via braintree

Braintree is a payment technology company backed by PayPal whose tech is used by companies and consumers to streamline financial transactions. Director of Support Katie Schaaf Klinzing said new hires should come in understanding that no one person is a one-stop source to answer all their questions.

 

How do you set new hires up for success?

We have continuously asked ourselves: “How could it be better?” We turn this question on our new hires because we’ve learned that our best source of insights into how to set them up for success is to ask. We give them space to give us feedback, ask questions and request additional training. We believe training is a team-wide responsibility, so new hires get exposure to many of their peers immediately, allowing them to build rapport from the first week.

There’s no such thing as a go-to person for all things.”
 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

To really embrace the idea that there’s no such thing as a go-to person for all things. It’s critical to let that ‘expert mentality’ go, be an active participant in training and provide feedback at every opportunity so we can tailor and enhance the training and onboarding experience at an individual level.

 

Showpad team in their office holding champagne glasses
image via showpad

Showpad provides sales and marketing tools like analytics and content management systems to help companies engage with prospective buyers. Senior HR Business Partner Megan Flanagan said teachings don’t stop after the initial onboarding period, thanks to the company’s internal training hub.

 

How do you set new hires up for success?

Every new hire starts off with an onboarding experience that immediately immerses them in our culture and exposes them to our values and technology. We strongly believe in ‘drinking our own champagne’ and have developed Showpad University, a tool to keep employees learning and developing their skills long after onboarding is done, which leverages our own enablement technology.

We create opportunities for employees to work on projects that may be outside of their day-to-day scope.”


What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

We know that the best learning often comes by doing, so we create opportunities for employees to work on projects that may be outside of their day-to-day scope to learn more about other aspects of our business. We’re a team of good-natured ass kickers, so be prepared to work hard and have fun.

 

Centro team at beach outing
image via centro

Centro offers digital advertising firms and established brands tools for purchasing media space and automating processes. Emily Barron, executive vice president of talent and development, said Centro’s training dives into topics deeper than an employee’s day-to-day duties.

 

How do you set new hires up for success?

We welcome new hires from all of our offices with an orientation in Chicago. There, the new Centrons participate in a two-day session where they learn all about the ways of our company. In addition, each new hire and his or her manager are accountable to a 30-, 60- and 90-day onboarding roadmap. This ensures that new hires and managers have resources they need to succeed in their first few months.  

We welcome new hires from all of our offices with an orientation in Chicago.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

We believe onboarding is much more than a new hire orientation. It involves integrating in rhythm with other employees and senior leaders. It also means being immersed in our culture and having a clear understanding of our values and what drives us as an organization to succeed. 

We want new hires to hit the ground running, but this doesn’t stop at 90 days. We challenge them to always be curious and to learn, because that is going to be the primary reason they are happy.

 

Devbridge Group posing for group photo
image via devbridge group

Devbridge Group develops custom software for finance, healthcare, agtech, manufacturing and technology companies. Managing Director Mark Adams said new hires should know that they don’t know things, and be OK with asking questions. 

 

How do you set new hires up for success? 

We have our formal onboarding process, and it’s also important to convey how work actually gets done day to day. We like to partner new hires up with people in similar roles to start shadowing meetings on day one. I also like to tee up meetings with key internal contacts the first week. Building relationships with people while you’re a new hire is much better than introducing yourself down the line because you need their help.

It’s much better to demonstrate curiosity and intent to learn than to try to impress people.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. You’re new, and it’s much better to demonstrate curiosity and intent to learn than to try to impress people by pretending you understand more than you do.

 

Two Geneva Trading staff chatting at their desks
image via Geneva trading

Geneva Trading is a principal trading firm whose proprietary platform helps traders with execution, visualization and analysis. Lead Developer and Team Lead Sherwin Hamidi said open communication and collaboration in training helps new hires feel comfortable, even before their first day.

 

How do you set new hires up for success?

Setting new hires up for success starts before their first day, and we work to maintain consistent communication and build relationships during the critical period from offer acceptance to start date. The company supports each team’s collaborative, customized approach to immersing new hires in our entrepreneurial culture.

I want my team to take pride and ownership in their work, and that’s only feasible when we’re aligned on philosophy and vision.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

The biggest piece of advice I would give a new hire is to come in with an open mind and be ready to learn all aspects of our technology and vision. We hit the ground running with our developers and we have high standards. I want my team to take pride and ownership in their work, and that’s only feasible when we’re aligned on philosophy and vision.

 

Seven PHMG at formal event
image via phmg

PHMG is an audio branding agency that helps companies enhance their caller experiences through tools like professional voice artistry, creative copy and custom music. Academy Manager Alan Osborne said hitting the ground running and having a passion for the work are keys to success as a new hire.

 

How do set up new hires for success?

Every staff member takes part in a thorough training course, during which they’re introduced to all the teams and are equipped with all the information they need to thrive in their new roles. Then they hit the phones to gain immediate practical experience in communicating with presidents, CEOs and other key company figures. This dual process allows them to understand the core pitch like the back of their hands.

If you show true passion for what you do, put in the hard work and strive to continuously improve every day, the results will come.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

There are three key character traits that successful staff members possess — passion, hard work and a commitment to continuous improvement. If you show true passion for what you do, put in the hard work and strive to continuously improve every day, the results will come.

 

Wide shot of VelocityEHS staff working and chatting in their office
image via velocityehs

VelocityEHS provides software that companies can leverage to manage and meet their environmental, health and safety goals. Molly Thompson, employee engagement specialist, said new hires should be open to learning new things and ready to work hard when they arrive.

 

How are new hires set up for success?

We believe retention begins with recruitment, so it’s essential for us to find candidates who are not only a good fit for the role but also our growth culture. We invest heavily in our onboarding program as well, with most new hires going through six to 12 months of training, dependent on job function and market.

Coachability and work ethic are usually our best early indicators for success.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give new hires?

We hire a lot of recent college grads, so coachability and work ethic are usually our best early indicators for success. If you are willing to work hard and remain open to feedback, your potential for growth here is unlimited.

 

ReviewTrackers staff lounging in a living room area
image via reviewtrackers

ReviewTrackers gives companies opportunities to see what people are saying about them and their offerings through its review monitoring software. Associate HR Manager Samantha Bourjaily, Director of Sales Jeff Pearlman and VP of Engineering Nate Reynolds shared their insights into how they approach new employee training and what recent hires can do to succeed. 

 

How do you set up new hires for success?

Bourjaily: They meet the company’s leaders during onboarding and get a deep dive into the many ways our teams work together to create a successful product. We also have a pain points exercise that puts new hires in the shoes of businesses trying to track their reviews without our software.

Reynolds: We help new engineering hires get their environments set up within the first two days. From there, they get assigned bugs for a week or so as they get comfortable navigating our codebase. At the same time, they also take part in training sessions with senior engineers that dive into the architecture and engineering process.

They should feel comfortable with offering suggestions, asking questions and challenging the way we do things.”

 

What is one piece of advice you give to new hires?

Bourjaily: Challenge the norm. We hire people who are contributors and who want to have a voice. We want them to feel empowered from day one, and they should feel comfortable with offering suggestions, asking questions and challenging the way we do things.

Pearlman: Be eager to learn. There is a lot of information thrown at you, so learn as much as you can, but also have plenty of questions. The best reps dive into the process, but they also ask questions, shadow veterans and remain hungry for more to learn.

 

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