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05 Sep Employee Onboarding at Agilcon – 6 Key Lessons

Growing our team 50% annually means, that at any given time, every 5th person at Agilcon is just being onboarded and that about the same number of people act as mentors. It is quite obvious that onboarding consumes an enormous amount of effort and, even more critical, it literally defines our future.

This is why smooth and effective onboarding is one of my top priorities as the CEO at Agilcon. Let me share with you some of our key lessons.

#1 Make them feel welcome and safe

We try to redefine how the “first day (or week or month) at work” feels like. Uncertainty? Fear? Loneliness? Not at Agilcon. The whole team gets “prepared” one day before the big day and we welcome new coworker in person and on our internal social channels. We try to make our new coworker feel safe (to ask any question or say anything) and accepted.

#2 Build employee’s own onboarding team

At Agilcon, onboarding a new employee is teamwork. Yes, it does consume a lot of time and effort, but we believe it is worth it. Each new employee gets assigned a team lead (superior), a mentor (professional guidance) and a buddy (social integration). Additionally, my responsibility as the CEO will be to discuss two of our key topics: our values and how we handle our customers’ confidential data.

#3 Give and demand feedback

The first few months are all about giving and receiving feedback. The new employee will be regularly updated about his or her progress (compared to expectations). On the other hand, we also encourage honest feedback from the employee: how is the onboarding team doing? How can it be of better help? Is this what you’ve expected? This is how we learn to be better with every completed onboarding.

#4 Culture & values before rules & processes

Yes, eventually, we all have to obey some rules and follow certain processes. But even before that, it is important for a new employee to “feel” the culture and Agilcon’s values. This is what makes us special and it is probably also the reason why he or she joined us. How do we do it? We have a set of recommended books and my role as the CEO is to present our values and most importantly, we do it on our own behaviour.

#5 Balance learning and actual work

Joining the battlefield (this is how projects sometimes look like) on the first day? Or spending the first month just learning? I believe there has to be a balance between the two. Give real, meaningful tasks as soon as possible but reserve enough time to learn the basics.

#6 Don’t give up too soon

Sometimes it seems we do everything right, but the new employee does just not catch up as fast as expected. We try to think out of the box and challenge the new employee to do the same. We try changing the onboarding team, the employee’s job position, search for other talents that he or she might have that are needed in our company. Remember, giving up is the most expensive!

Closing thoughts

As I usually say to our onboarding teams: mentoring a new employee can be one of the greatest responsibilities ever given. We’ll either succeed and create a successful, confident professional or fail and contribute to a life of missed opportunities. With this in mind, I see effective onboarding as Agilcon’s greatest responsibility to every person joining us.

Marko Perme, CEO



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