Image Above: Zach Wilcox's home office as he begins his career at Collabrance as a new Strategic Business Advisor.
It was 7:25 AM on March 30th, and I was ready for my first day at Collabrance. My shoes were shined, my shirt was pressed, and I was full of caffeine and nervous excitement.
But with the pandemic, instead of walking through the front doors of the GreatAmerica building, I walked down the stairs to my basement to my makeshift card table desk.
I was ready to kick off my (virtual) onboarding experience, a process that thousands of companies are designing and implementing in real time since physical offices began to close in March. The traditional formula of classroom learning, shadowing current employees and then taking the reins and jumping into the work is much different when the new hire is sitting at their kitchen table.
However, there are MSPs who are using the economic turbulence to strengthen their team, hire talented employees who have recently entered the labor market, and develop effective ways to onboard and train those new employees remotely.
If there is a positive change to come away from the COVID-19 pandemic, one has been the increase in the use of video calls. As a new employee, the ability to speak with other team members face-to-face goes a long way in the effectiveness of training as well as the comfort level within the team. Because there isn’t any initial contact with co-workers, making sure to schedule time on a daily basis to connect via video calls goes a long way with your new employee.
For the first 4-6 weeks, it’s also important to have at least one check-in per day. I had these scheduled for the last 30 minutes of the workday, and it was a great way to talk through questions that came up.
Image Above: The Collabrance office remains empty while team members work safely at home.
While we can’t turn our chairs around for impromptu conversations and updates, this daily meeting check-in gives our team the chance to talk through the upcoming day, get feedback/suggestions on ways to approach upcoming tasks, and maintain accountability.
If I tell my coworkers that I’m going to accomplish X, Y and Z before the end of that day, I don’t want to be the one who shows up to the Daily Sales Huddle the next morning with boxes unchecked on the to-do list. Make sure you are in consistent and frequent contact with your new hires. It will help get them familiar and comfortable with their role faster.
When a new employee joins an organization, many training plans will have them meet with people in outside roles/departments to help them learn about the organizational structure and build relationships. Onboarding virtually is no excuse to skip out on this exercise! I was fortunate enough to have a leader take action and schedule calls with over a dozen different team members who I would not have otherwise interacted with.
Image Above: The Collabrance Team also implemented a Daily Sales Huddle in the morning, a tradition that was started after everyone had shifted to working from home.
The opportunity to still get to – virtually – meet a variety of people in different roles and different functions helped make me feel like I was truly part of the team, understand my contributions, and it gave me more resources to lean on for my training.
Now when I had a technical question, I knew exactly who was best suited to answer that question and felt comfortable enough to reach out directly. It may seem like extra work, but helping build these relationships up front will prove to be invaluable as your new hire gets up and running from the comfort of his home!
This past weekend, I got to participate in my first annual GreatAmerica Awards Banquet. I’ve heard talk about this event since my first day with the team, and even though it had a different look than most years (due to the fact that it was 100% virtual), it still made me realize the importance of employee recognition. Given that we aren’t in the office, the time and effort that went into celebrating the accomplishments of the past year were impressive and more appreciated than ever. It’s important to the company as a core principle, “We celebrate successes, share rewards, and make time for fun.”
Take time and recognize the accomplishments of your newest team member. Share their successes with other members of the company, and make sure they know that their hard work is being recognized and appreciated.
Whether it’s in a company-wide meeting or a small virtual “cheers” to end a week, letting them know they are succeeding and growing in their new role will do wonders for their morale. So celebrate that first deal, let them know you see the number of tickets they’ve resolved, and make sure they know that you value their contribution to the team no matter where they are!
Image Above: The Collabrance Team celebrates the Annual GreatAmerica Awards Show, activities, and winners virtually this year while we remain separate, but together. View the Facebook Album of photos.
Zach Wilcox, Strategic Business Advisor for Collabrance, is responsible for helping Managed Services Providers grow their business through customized coaching, training, and planning sessions. Zach graduated from Cornell College with a B.A. in Economics and Business.