Onboarding New Team Members
Hello, I’m Drew 👋 a few months ago myself and Gui Trevisan were invited to join The Hum. I would like to tell you a little bit about how we were onboarded and integrated.
A wise friend once told me that onboarding is one of the most important phases of a collaborative relationship. Putting care into how you integrate someone into a team can be the difference between many months of struggle or lovely humming 😉 success.
So let me tell you a little about how The Hum did it with Gui and myself.
The process began with Rich and Nati doing a lot of documentation. They have been working as a small team for quite some time. Most of their “institutional knowledge” lives in their bodies, minds, and between them. Adding two new people many time zones away required them to take that knowledge out of their heads and into some form we could digest.
They chose to visually display their knowledge in a Mural board (pictured below) along with a Handbook that described much of the who, what, why, and how of The Hum.
We were then gently introduced to the internal systems. Starting with task management (Trello) where our onboarding checklist was co-created and assigned to us. Our first task was to digest the onboarding material and documentation about how certain systems worked, like the website and shared files.
This process was held within The Hum’s work rhythm, a two weeks cycle of intention setting, co-working time, and reflection. This pattern is covered in The Hum’s online course material if you are interested in building out your own work rhythms.
That covered the nuts and bolts of how work gets done but good onboarding isn’t just handbooks and boring documents about file naming conventions. I am a soft precious human person who is coming into an organisation that I respect with peers who I have been following for many years. It is intimidating! There are further complications because I’m entering an organisation as an equal, not a subordinate. For all the ways we wax poetic about the utopian “power-with” arrangements let us not forget that being an employee under a boss can be a very uncomplicated arrangement that most of us have learned to embody through our parents, school, and past work.
To work as equals and be able to address the power dynamics in this organisation we need to meet each other as human people with all our feelings, flaws, and fantastic traits.
Team User Manual
Enter the team user manual, a scaffold to surface and hold the ways our working self likes to be in the world and the challenges we face. It is quite literally a manual for how to work with an individual (The Hum got this idea from Mark Eddleston).
Part of our onboarding process was to fill out our page on the user manual. Here’s mine:
After each of us filled this out we dedicated a significant portion of our time to reading each other’s pages and asking questions for clarification and discussion of some of the things that came up.
The whole process was very illuminating and has already helped make our working environment more easeful and fun. I know to bathe Rich in compliments about his spreadsheets, how Gui likes to receive tasks, and Nati’s love for 1 on 1 ideation.
This process will be revisited on a regular basis as our team matures.
Do you know your colleague's improvement goals? What they love?
How they want to receive feedback?
Consider investing a few hours a week over the next month filling out and discussing your team’s user manual. If you don’t know where to start feel free to reach out.
Welcome The Hum new team members!
I’ve been on a life journey exploring the way people collaborate. In art school my peers and I would pass our sketch books around, each of us adding to the last person’s sketch. Later on the streets of NYC I participated in a consensus circle for the first time with people at Occupy Wall Street. Enthralled by the success and failure of Occupy, and the subsequent disaster relief effort of Occupy Sandy. A year later I went on a winding adventure leading me to help start the self directed K-12 pedagogy of Agile Learning Centers. Co-founding a Coop called Good Good Work and finding a community of Social Permaculture practitioners in Denver Colorado where I now live.
The way people work together fascinates me and I believe that we can work better together from a position of power with, rather than power over. This is at the heart of what The Hum does and I’m grateful for being a part of it.
Since I was a kid, I've been very curious about how we, humans, interact with each other, and what our possibilities and our potential is to create healthier and more joyful relational environments. That curiosity led me through different experiences in my life that taught me how to collaborate and co-create in groups. I’ve been part of youth groups focused on community and purpose discovery; I co-founded The Village Free School for kids K-12; I built and lived in multiple intentional co-living projects and permaculture based ecovillages (including Gaia, in Argentina). Being a mother has also been a transformational journey in search of new ways to experience authenticity, freedom, power, care and more.
I strongly believe in human’s capacity to change the way we live and work together. I’m really enthusiastic about joining The Hum to keep learning as a team.
Ritual & Rites of Passage
So now I’m here writing this introduction to Gui and myself, and being trusted with an article on the website. Feels like a kind of rite of passage. Having our faces and bio on the front page is another little signifier that we are really part of the team.
As I see it, onboarding is the confluence of these three practices: knowledge transfer, social integration, and ritualised celebration of inclusion.
Ritual is a performance outside of the mundane but it doesn’t have to be over the top. Taking a moment to bring a team together to give a newcomer their business cards can be enough of a signifier.
What rite of passage did you perform that made you feel integrated
into your team?
Thanks for participating in this rite of passage with me! If you want to meet me in person check out our upcoming events in Denver.