Onboarding into a new role or company can be a very challenging process, but it doesn’t have to be! In most cases with onboarding, it is typically assumed that the company or team will head the process and the new team member will take more or less of a passive role in catching up to speed. This idea of the company running the onboarding process is what makes onboarding challenging at times. As an employee who is still in the process of onboarding, I have come to realize that taking an active role in onboarding is the best way to successfully ramp onto a new company or team.
Three great ways of taking an active approach in your onboarding experience are to constantly ask for and give yourself feedback, ask questions until you understand, and challenge yourself with gradually harder and harder work.
Get good feedback.
Ask your teammates how you are doing as much as you can. Sometimes on teams or in companies, you might be doing something wrong and have no idea that you’re doing it incorrectly. If it’s a minor issue, some teammates won’t bring it up unless prompted, because they might not want to come off as nitpicky. It is your responsibility to get this feedback so you can correct these minor issues before they become bigger and bigger problems for your team via the snowball effect. If you are just passively following the company’s onboarding process, you might miss things like this.
When learning something new with a team member, ask as many questions as it takes to properly understand what it is you’re working on. Although you may get in your own head and start thinking you’re being annoying, your job is to make sure you’re doing what you need to do to catch up to speed as quickly as you can. If you start to feel insecure, remind yourself that if you take the time to understand something now, ultimately it is going to end up saving your team time, and real annoyance, down the road.
Get good work.
As things start to go well and you start to get into your groove, if possible, ask for slightly harder work to do. Completing more and more challenging work is a great way to prove yourself to your team and also give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Don’t take bites bigger than you can chew, however, or it could lead to the opposite.
If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t getting enough work, start by reaching out to your team and asking for more instead of idling. It helps neither you nor your team when you aren’t getting good work. If everyone on your team is busy and having trouble finding work for you, remember that you are also leading your onboarding process. Try grabbing some work that seems doable to you and broadcast what you’re working on to your team members so they know what you’re up to.
Take an active role in your onboarding process.
Onboarding is a great way to take an active role in your career. Don’t just assume that you’re going to be handed everything you need to successfully ramp onto your team. Nobody knows your individual needs better than you do, and it is possible to use that fact and work it into your onboarding experience as long as you take initiative to do it.