Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.—Earl Nightingale
We believe in the power of onboarding new people and helping them make an easy and smooth transition. It not only helps us regarding becoming more productive and effective, but it also breaks several boundaries. We don't have much experience in this area, but we're confident that this short guideline gives us a red thread to keep us on the right track.
The onboarding process is tailored to a position in customer support department, but most of the info can be aligned to almost any kind of job or role. However, bear in mind that there's also some level of particularity due to the nature of your culture, your people, their background, and so on. So feel free to shape it as you please to match your specific scenario.
We believe that two main areas are highly important when it comes to onboarding new people. One is focused on the learning process, and the second on the behaviors and how they should reflect the culture. Both of them are crucially for how things will work out with the new guy or gal. We invest a bunch of resources in this playground, so there's no wonder why we have high expectations.
The learning flow
We gathered our best insights in drawing a learning framework that makes sense from top to toe. That's why we structured the entire journey in three main phases:
#1 — Get familiar with the playground
In the first week, the main idea is to get a clue about what WordPress is and is not. Here are some resources we find valuable to cover:
- Learning WordPress – Pixelgrade.com
- Easy WP Guide
- Best Practices: Why and How to Create a Child Theme in WordPress – Mediatemple.net
On top of that, there are other hot topics that will definitely help define a better understanding of our world:
- CSS Beginner Tutorial – Htmldog.com
- HTML & CSS for Beginners – Codeschool.com
- GitHub: the beginner's guide – Pluralsight.com
Furthermore, we believe is time to discover Pixelgrade's products from different perspectives. One on hand, we encourage playing around with them as much as possible, and on the other hand, we highly recommend to read the current documentation. It is a good chance to see if there are any flaws, and also a chance to dig deeper into our WordPress themes. Moreover, we share other relevant resources as well, such as the ebooks we wrote on customer support.
The final lap is to stay close to other customer support agents, see how they handle a wide range of tickets, observe how they communicate with customers and with each other as well, and so on. These few days will help build a more consistent image regarding how we offer a memorable experience to our customers and how we shape it in the long run.
#2 — Practice makes perfect
The second week of the learning process is focused on following the client's journey. With other words, we simulate the entire interaction of a potential customer with us: from visiting our shop, choosing the right theme for his needs, buying it, getting in touch with us via e-mail, using the Pixelgrade Care service to skim through the documentation, until actually opening a ticket and chatting with our crew about specific struggles.
We believe a good opportunity to identify pain points that we might have missed along the way. Besides that, is a good entry point to understand that we have different approaches when helping customers on different platforms, such as WordPress.com, Help Scout or ThemeForest. This doesn't mean that we fake it, not at all, but as any good communicators out there, we adjust the message to the audience, taking into consideration the brand's personality.
This is also good timing for having hands-on a limited number of tickets and helping real customers with real needs. We offer the support of a customer agent by sharing insights and feedback when needed, but it's time to take some action.
#3 — Knowledge-sharing
The third and last week of the onboarding process is dedicated to consolidating the previous efforts. We think that the best way to do that is simply by knowledge-sharing sessions with the team. With other words, we suggest to select a certain number of tickets and debate them inside of the customer support tribe to share ideas and evolve together.
The culture and the behaviors
The culture is nothing more than the sum of the day-by-day behaviors. We pay attention how people act and how they manifest the core values of our team. With other words, if somebody doesn't live by those values it means that they don't exist for us or that we have distinct definitions for the same concepts. However, we've learned (in a hard way) that behaviors define best what people truly believe, which are their ambitions and expectations.
The onboarding process contains an area where we focus on some particular layers:
Sharing the history
In just a few words, this means to make room for telling stories from Pixelgrade's history. From letting know about how it all started until sharing the bumps along the road, how we overcome them and how we grew together in the last years — all of them contribute to a better understanding of who we are. Here are some ideas:
- Who's who at Pixelgrade?
- Which are the lessons learned so far?
- What makes us proud and not so proud?
Values in action
The values per se are just nice words written down. If not manifested on a daily basis, they don't represent much. Moreover, the good ones need to be encouraged, while the negative one needs to be corrected through empathy and transparent communication. People need feedback not only regarding their actual work but also regarding their inner-why. In the end, we all come from a story that shaped our character and had a huge impact on who we are today. This doesn't mean that we can't change or become better with human relationships, for instance, it just means that it's a challenge and not everyone is ready to embrace it.
Here's how we succeed to maintain a genuine approach on this one:
- Run 1:1 discussions with the entire team
- Lead by example every single time
- Start from positive assumptions
Celebrate the small wins
Most of the time we're far too involved in the ''jobs-to-be-done'' kind of mantra. We need to checkboxes because this gives us a sense of purpose and a particular drive to move further. It's okay, and it's part of everyone's professional lives. However, we're trying to build up a culture of celebrating small wins, not for instant gratification's sake, but mostly because we realized that we need to stop from time to time and remember to enjoy the ride.
Here's an easy way to make it happen:
- Encourage an attitude of gratitude
- Build momentum in the happiness times
- Invest resources in what brings a good vibe
These are our two cents on how to onboarding new people in a way that is meaningful and productive in the short and long run as well. We're eager to see how things will work out and happy to share with you the lessons learned along the way. Keep being awesome!