Employee Onboarding with Benjamin Jackson

Benjamin Jackson

Ben Jackson has been designing and building consumer-facing products for 20 years.

Before founding For the Win, Ben worked as Director of Mobile at VICE Media and iOS Lead at The New York Times. He’s written about design, technology, and psychology for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and WIRED, among others. Ben studied Computer Science and Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.

In today’s episode we discuss the importance of employee onboarding, Ben’s new company, “For the Win,” his Slackbot and “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”


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Show Notes:

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

The First Time Manager

The Effective Manager

Manager Tools Podcast

Team of Teams 

Practical Service Design


Read Full Transcript

Benjamin Jackson:
[0:00] Thank you very much.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:04] Absolute it’s my pleasure to have you on been so where you calling from today.

Benjamin Jackson:
[0:08] Calling in from Brooklyn New York.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:10] Excellent spot for some of those listeners don’t think I mentioned it but I didn’t grow up in New York so I definitely a strong spot my heart they going to be going back in April so if I do get back maybe we can grab a beer when it back there.

Benjamin Jackson:
[0:21] That is wonderful.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:23] Excellent so Ben just get the show started a little bit give me a little bit about your background kind of highlights of what you’ve done and how it got you to where you are today.

Benjamin Jackson:
[0:32] Yeah sure I’ve been building consumer-facing software web products for about 20 years,
I started coding in the early nineties and I was a very very young teenager about 11,
and I ended up running an agency in Brazil for about 6 years after college moved here in 2010 to work on iOS House of the New York Times,
I’ll just been out of 3 years after that and freelance app development before I going over to Vice media to work there as director of mobile.
I ran it to you my by 3/4 mobile engineer’s for about two and a half years there and we built all of the mobile products,
from the ground up.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:14] Excellent and at what point in that time did you sort of get into being an it an engineering manager.

Benjamin Jackson:
[1:21] That was really started back in the very early days of the agency I was technical director so I had a few reports back then and I learned the hard way that managing people is is is really challenging.
Attention and vigilance not my strong suits back then.
And I really came back to managing full-time during my tenure advice that started in about 20.
14 2015 2015.
And that was just that was a director role and that was a different set of challenges you know working a larger organization much bigger or Chardon one more I was not at the top of that or chart.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:07] Yeah and what do you what what stands out for you right now is and as you mentioned maybe to have those patients kind of when your younger is is one of your bigger mistakes you make on a transitioning into that early management.

Benjamin Jackson:
[2:20] I think not doing enough check-ins with my reports.
You know I I think a lot of people when they when they first start managing you know they think I know you know how your gray people get out of their way let them do their thing,
that doesn’t go so well if you’re not you know at least one every week spending some time chatting with them,
I know see what their obstacles are and then really keeping on top of their progress.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:52] Yeah no definitely absolutely.

Benjamin Jackson:
[2:54] And making sure that aligns on goals and that they’re working on the right things not just you know putting in long hours.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:01] Absolutely and from today or no from from Vice and then you you transition into set of doing your own thing you’ve kind of gone into your own Endeavor now so tell me a little bit about that.

Benjamin Jackson:
[3:13] Yes sir so I run a consulting firm called for the win say it’s sad for small teens with big plans,
I help companies scale up from the 30 to 75 range up to 250 employees 204 isn’t and really the work is helping them build structures,
processes to make people work better together to increase employee happiness.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:41] And can when you come into a company what are some of the signs you see when you know it’s time right to to provide some of this organizational structure.

Benjamin Jackson:
[3:51] You can usually see it in the dark rims underneath the founders eyes when you see someone who’s really really sleep deprived,
that’s usually a sign that they’re feeling the crunch of you know having executive leadership doubling as HR.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:07] And what is the I think one of the things and we thought we talked about this before and I think the focus of this episode is going to be a little bit about that kind of some of that structure as it relates to kind of the hiring in the onboarding process and I think a lot of us know,
especially in the valley in other areas we’re rushing rushing rushing to and a lot of time and energy on hiring people are going to get that higher and now, what happens when that.
When I.
Perfect candidate walks in the door and starts right and your company I think focuses one of their main things to focus on is onboarding right so what exactly does that mean to you by boarding and and what does that mean.

Benjamin Jackson:
[4:46] Yeah well I mean I think,
on-boarding for employees the easiest way to to talk about it to two people working products or you know engineering manager is his it’s up it’s a lot like onboarding uses into your products,
you know if you want people to stick around you have to think about their first experience at a very carefully and and really designed something that’s that’s thoughtful.
You know something where it’s obvious to the person you know starting at your company that you thought there every single detail of what they’re going to do on their first day and how you can make that easy for them,
and really reducing those frustrating moments he has someone shows up and there’s no desk space,
weather laptop isn’t ready or it takes him a week to get you no access to all the different tools making sure that you really put a lot of caring that experience.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:41] And it for you why do you think your why is onboarding so important but obviously there’s Logistics and have a laptop that might not be as productive but why else is on board and focusing on it so important.

Benjamin Jackson:
[5:52] Ties directly into employee retention.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:56] Okay okay.

Benjamin Jackson:
[5:57] The literature is pretty clear on the ROI in terms of British turnover,
people who go through a structured onboarding plan you know not just a couple days but lots of 6 to 12 months,
they stick around at shockingly high rates relative to other employees at at 69% more likely staying 3 years or more.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:20] It was raining other study I think by the Aberdeen group and they’re mentioning it I think about 86% of respondents said that hires a new hires decision to stay was really made and that critical first three six month.

Benjamin Jackson:
[6:34] Absolutely there is some data from I believe it’s bamboo that I don’t like one and six of the people surveyed had left one and three of the people surveyed had lots of job in the first 6 months.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:46] Yeah.

Benjamin Jackson:
[6:47] And I 18% of those left in the first week that’s a lot of people who turn over early.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:52] Wow I didn’t realize.

Benjamin Jackson:
[6:52] Yeah there’s a story of a CTO who went to a company called clinkle I don’t know if you remember them from few years ago went over from square and he I believe left after the first day.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:03] Yeah I think I remember reading that story right you know definitely in the man interviewed I think I Bethany making you blow out and this is for a different reason to but some cultural things yet I think she was the shortest VP of engineering Reddit I think she lasted a week or something.

Benjamin Jackson:
[7:18] I Can Only Imagine.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:20] What causes someone to leave so quickly.

Benjamin Jackson:
[7:24] Some wonderful folks over there Reddit.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:26] Yeah I know now.

Benjamin Jackson:
[7:27] What’s up I’m curious what was your first onboarding experience like your first day at your first job.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:34] I’ll have to probably show them to my age at that point been so I’m trying to remember back to my back to my first job.

Benjamin Jackson:
[7:41] We don’t need to have it to your first job it could be it could be 5 jobs ago.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:47] Yeah I mean I think it’s it’s the the typical.
I was I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere where is like hey I was blown away right it’s kind of typical you come in there’s the HR paperwork there’s here’s where I’m sitting and check a few people.
Maybe a couple places there is someone took me out to lunch in the first day and then I’m going to stop by myself for a few hours.
Right I think that kind of sums up a lot of the different places I’ve been that I’ve been you know I’m boarded at.

Benjamin Jackson:
[8:15] Yeah it usually does not get a lot of love often times because the Departments that are responsible for it they don’t have a ton of resources to put into that stuff.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:24] Yeah.

Benjamin Jackson:
[8:25] Especially when you get to companies that are growing very quickly you know any money that’s not put towards product and revenue you know it it’s,
it’s not it’s not what the Padre kindly.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:38] So that’s that’s take a step hear back and kind of go to that life cycle of that you know that reaching out that onboarding process and one of the things when I was reading something that you would rent before.
It talks about a big part of retention is actually doing something long before the employee ever Steps From the door and it was such a simple as the job description.
Right making sure that the job role deliverables actually going to match with the person going to do when they walk in the door.

Benjamin Jackson:
[9:07] Absolutely.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:09] And you don’t so too so let’s take the stuff back then so before you know the person starts and you know you maybe you’re just reaching out to them how important is this is the first step in the process for retention right you mentioned before it starts way before the event starts.
Backup of minutes and start with that like what are the things that are important to do before you know you even reach out to that person.

Benjamin Jackson:
[9:30] Yeah I think the most important thing is really having a clear and consistent process for defining job titles and responsibilities and expectations around those.
You know one of my clients we have a form,
that if you need to get a new hire you fill out this form and you say you know what’s the title would it why do you need them what are they going to bring to the orc and it forces people to think a little bit more carefully,
through not only why they need another hire and what that person is going to bring in terms of Roi the organization what do they need in the person themselves,
what are the qualities that are going to lead to success is it something we’re being Super Hyper detail-oriented is Paramount’s.
Or is it something more big picture thinking or you know lateral thinking or I don’t know political skills there any number of difference.
Areas where you can pick a part candidates and and score them differently.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:34] So definitely number one making sure that they people are annoying why they’re hiring for the role and I’ve seen that to even some of my monitors they’ll be like I need to hire somebody.
Why right over very busy.
Okay yeah so I think it’s Rich truly step one right what you’re saying is really about defining why that why they need to hire and then really being critical about the attributes of the person in that role that they’re looking to hire.

Benjamin Jackson:
[11:01] Yeah I know I think I think it’s Drucker effective executive who talks about some not fitting the job to the higher,
I bet signing a higher that it’s the job and the first step towards doing that is really understanding what is the job.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:19] Absolutely and I definitely makes a good point I see a lot of cases where man this person is so great and if we get him in here you know he’ll just work out or he or she will work out.
Right even though it’s not the exact match right and I’m sure you see that other places and you’re going any Consulting as well.

Benjamin Jackson:
[11:36] Yeah and people when they come into a company without a clear role in a clear set of responsibilities it’s it’s really jarring and it doesn’t make people happy you know that they just sort of feel.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:49] And what other things then are important sort of that that pre-boarding I think of that pre hiring process that’s important for their longer-term attention.

Benjamin Jackson:
[11:59] Personalizing the initial Outreach to them is super important in getting a warm introduction if there’s anybody in the organization has a connection to them,
I just go to miles.
It’s a much different experiencing I’m getting a cold email from recruiter with me know 3 different positions that might be interesting,
I’ve been to get a warm introduction to a company’s or someone who works there and you know of convulsions they looking I work here it’s a great place you should really join the team.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:27] Sure I would about even if they’re not necessarily at your company right it it’s still valuable to try to get a referral from a maybe a friend of a friend or an acquaintance as well.

Benjamin Jackson:
[12:37] Yeah absolutely and I think if you are doing cold out reaching and really knowing this Market is you can’t escape that making sure that that outreaches relevance making sure that the voice in town,
that Outreach matches CertiFit the employer brand and that the product brand and in really making sure that you know you’re not wasting people’s time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:01] Yes that’s an excellent point to even just anecdotally I think today I got some email from a you know not not to be named kind of recruiting shop or like.
Man Christian you be great for this job Perfect Fit awesome and it’s in a second.
You know line Java programmer somewhere I’m going well so one at showing you can do any research this is almost insulting to me until now I’m probably never going to use your firm because I’m seeing the quality of your work.

Benjamin Jackson:
[13:28] Spray spray and pray does not work when you’re trying to recruit good technical talent and I think you know the,
that the real challenge in recruiting these days it really is just removing The Thirst from the process.
And when is specially when you’re working with professional Headhunters were paid on commission there’s a lot of thirst that’s a lot of money at stake.
And so you know being able to work with professionals who you know,
are working with the long-term relationships not just me know going through your LinkedIn connections and finding anybody with any of the keywords you’re looking for in their bio and and and you know I’m them it’s really important.

Christian Mccarrick:
[14:10] Excellent you know so sad now say where we kind of move along the scenario a little bit you you’ve reached out to a candidate maybe you’re talking to them what are some of the important things again maybe you haven’t hired them yet officially.
But maybe you’re you’re courting on what are some of the important things to think about it this process.

Benjamin Jackson:
[14:30] The most important thing is you know what’s the nard if you’re selling them on what’s the value that your company is is bringing to society to the market and enter the Canada themselves.
Do you have a top-tier engineering shop is doing groundbreaking work with like,
I don’t know log based database API zat I don’t know whatever the thing is that people that you’re trying to Target or looking for you probably going to want to know on your profile in those developer communities,
you know if if your narrative is we argue no cranes best place to work in New York I don’t know how many years in a row,
then you really going to want to play up you know how how great your employees. Says how happy the people are,
you know and maybe rely more on networking and you know bringing people to happy hours at your place.
Happy hours are great for anybody really because you can get a lot of people inside your company who wouldn’t necessarily prefer someone to just bring her friends.
And the more friends you get in the door the more people there are out there you know evangelizing your team.

Christian Mccarrick:
[15:41] Yeah no good points now let’s say you’ve won them over and hey they’ve accepted.
Right does onboarding start the day they walk in the door or does it start you know once that accepted happens and what should happen in that critical time. Between dividend accepted maybe they’re nervous and they have a couple weeks before they start.

Benjamin Jackson:
[16:02] As soon as they accept the offer letter you really want to move quickly get them some kind of onboarding packet anything that they can fill out in terms of forms before they get there,
you should tell him in advance,
I’m obviously the employee handbook you have a culture handbook in addition to the employee handbook send that as well you know and I think,
the real consideration when you’re in that. Near where they given notice and accepted the offer but they haven’t quite started yet you have to worry about them being poached.
By someone else and you also have to worry about them you know getting the offer in and bringing it to their boss back at their current job and having their boss at oh my goodness we can’t afford to lose you.
And so making sure that you know before you send that offer making sure they’re serious about it so you don’t burn me know whatever time and energy goes into putting out that offer for nothing,
but also making sure that once they give you that yes,
all of your energy from that point is towards getting them to take those small steps towards entering that role so they’ve already you know put out a little bit of commitment and and feel like they’re on their way there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:16] Hickory Point I think you know there was one roll I took to where my my soon-to-be boss at the Amazon overnighted a book to me that it’s all kind of Abby important about leadership and working on board and.
And you admit that small little thing that cost company almost nothing in him probably 5 less than 5 minutes and Amazon at you know made a big difference too kind of my.

Benjamin Jackson:
[17:38] Gift go a long way no one has no one wants to have to send back the gifts.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:43] It’s right like engagement ring.
Now okay what kind of did the critical period Dave’s their onboard they start they show up.
Yeah what what’s that what’s that what’s the ideal thing for you to help with retention it if come in the door what are the what is that steps from day one through that first week and beyond that you think a really critical to an excellent onboarding program.

Benjamin Jackson:
[18:12] I think they vary for every single company some companies have no formal HR orientation and that is going to require a lot of attention other companies are too small to have something like that they’ve only got a new person coming in maybe once a month.
Some companies have really really large offices you know where it’s going to be a challenge for someone to find the bathroom if they have to go,
during one of the orientation sessions other places it’s just an open-plan office or let you know Corner know we work so you know.
I think the most important things to nail that experience on that first day is really just planning out step by step,
what is the customer Journey look like for a new person joining your company on the first day you know if they’re going to show up there going to have to somehow get into the building.
They’re going to hopefully be met by their boss and at some point shown where they’re going to sit and hopefully be given some kind of equipment to do their job.
And from there again every company is really going to differ there’s some broad of things to think about that everybody should think about,
one of the ones that we fall back on a lot of help with 4 C’s of onboarding so compliance which is what most companies focus on and get things around benefits and forms and making sure that you know all of this.
Employee handbook has all of the things that are round.

[19:43] Whistleblower policies but then there’s also Clarity Clarity around their roles and responsibilities and where they sit inside the organization.
Is also culture understanding the values of the company and and how those values are expressed in behavior on a day-to-day basis.
And it’s also community.
Building that network of people around them who are really going to be another Board of advisors so to speak inside the organization.
I’m going to have to make difficult decisions or you know when they have questions they need people to be able to turn to food they do not report to.
Reporting chain of.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:23] You know where the things we’ve leave should have done here a little bit is it most people tend to start on a Monday,
and Mondays in any company. Been intend to the mornings on Mondays tend to be a bit hectic with with any issues at that came up over the weekend and you know.
Can you have candles come in maybe.
More like [10:11] to help believe it you know any manager any fires they can you put out before they walk in the door and just going to have to get shoved in the corner for a while will the business goes on if you think about that.

Benjamin Jackson:
[20:51] I think that’s great I think the most important part of that first day onboarding is making sure the manager is in the building.
There to greet them I mean this is like they’re their first impression of what their day-to-day work life is going to be like and you know he show up on the first day and the lights are out and no one’s home,
it really doesn’t send the right message.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:15] Yeah.
Absolutely no would you recommend or have you ever recommend or maybe it’s even silly idea to has anyone kind of go through a role-playing exercise if they’re trying to roll out saying you on morning program and have someone you know pretend to be that the new employee and kind of go to work start to finish.

Benjamin Jackson:
[21:30] I think role-playing definitely has its place in in training sessions you know it’s it’s it’s really helpful in situations like for example feedback training,
I wear any of the conversations might be a little bit difficult or a little bit emotionally charged I think having even just a checklist,
for the manager that they can go down on the first day that really goes a long way towards making sure that none of those details get forgotten.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:02] And you’re one of the things is that they have their first day.
And maybe a week has gone by they’re pushing the first month what are the things than that are importance to kind of.
That onboarding process I read somewhere that you know some fast of an onboarding process should be continued through you know the first year even right so what would that look like.

Benjamin Jackson:
[22:26] Again it really is going to vary by company but the most important thing as you start to move out into the weeks in month is making sure that they’re on track with their goals,
you making sure the manager having regular conversations about their performance and end up there really you know that the candidate themselves feels like they’re integrating well.
You know having both progress check-ins and just you know on boarding check in with the manager to ask hey how are things going,
do you have any questions that you didn’t have during your first week now that you’ve been here and then start seeing things is there anything we can improve about the process what do you need.
Do you want a standing desk you know making sure that the managers actively involved in those conversation it’s really important cuz a lot of people won’t ask for what they need.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:21] Yep they’re they’re kind of Silence unless you going to put them on the spot or ask him very specific questions isn’t it your other feedback should have less and we’ve learned to his sister to try not to answer escos National question do you have everything you need yes is different from.
I am what specific thing can I get you that might help your you know your day today job and they can’t say yes or no and it forces them to think about some things.

Benjamin Jackson:
[23:42] Yeah framing framing those questions and making sure they’re open ended and insertive encourage people who might be a little bit more reticent to speak up that really really helps.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:54] Since most of my listeners are software engineering managers and I’m sure there’s a lot of very specific and general General things between onboarding,
what have you seen that is specific to software engineers and onboarding them that they might need a little bit of a different,
different type of thing when they when they come on board that’s focused on them.

Benjamin Jackson:
[24:14] A couple things come to mind the first one is just the sheer number of systems they need access to.
You know it’s not at all uncommon for an engineer to need you know 20 30 40 different logins you know within the first week or two,
you know there’s the the cloud logging service and I don’t know the cue background service and the exception Notifier and,
you know the servers themself and the build tools Lord only knows so I think making sure that you have an up-to-date list of those,
and ideally a really easy quick way to provision users for them.
Unless I’m mistaken I think it’s Reid Hoffman his new thing called Rippling,
isn’t onboarding tool that unless I’m mistaken all it does is provision people on mass for all of the services you would ever need.
That when the new person joins you flip a switch and they’re building access code goes on and another Gmail gets set up and all of the things that tie into that get set up and then when somebody is.
I forwarded you flip the switch to off and they lose access everything at once.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:31] Important for a deck that one part of your seawright the compliance aspect too and then that does become an important aspect of that.

Benjamin Jackson:
[25:37] Yeah it definitely in in companies where you know security is is tight enough that regardless of who you are security escort you out the building when you leave that kind of thing really candy mission-critical.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:49] Yeah what about some things as this is probably been very the culture of your company is some companies like Facebook or if they want you to commit code the first day how important is stuff like that for onboarding engineers.

Benjamin Jackson:
[26:03] I don’t think there’s any hard-and-fast rules about you know committing code to production on the first day I the most important thing is,
making sure that there’s some visible progress and that goals are really very clearly outlines when they join.
You know not generalize Engineers are a very diverse group of people.
I found it a lot of us are not great with surprises.
Often because you know in our line of work surprises usually end up resulting in us staying up very late or working weekends.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:41] Yeah exactly.

Benjamin Jackson:
[26:42] I think he know I’m catering to that personality type it it really does go a long way.
Setting the right expectations when someone comes in outside of getting access to all those Services is just setting up ones laptop,
with all of the different tech stocks or tools on it can be you know days of work.
Just a build things from Soros and and get everything installed so awesome.
Docker containers can go a long way just making sure that.
When you bring somebody on they can as quickly as possible to get spun up in producing something because the worst thing for an engineer is sitting around like not producing anything of value.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:30] Correct and you talked about kind of getting their laptop up and ready.
Engineers and some furniture is tend to be very they want to personalize that experience to write you might have your very you you’re coming tools you need but.
I don’t have my Engineers they have their they’re very specific you know Sublime Text format thing that they like on their screen some people have black and white white and black and just you know they want this in the upper left-hand corner and not in the upper right hand corner,
and relaxing allowing them to do that is an important thing to do to give him that level of freedom.

Benjamin Jackson:
[27:59] Yeah I mean anything other than root level access to their machine is going to make them deeply on Happy.
And I think he know any any system where for them to install a tool that they need or get sign off for a purchase that slower than a hundred or $200 you know those things there just an APA.
The engineer is productivity into their happiness.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:24] Yeah not silly I definitely I definitely agree with that so at some point in this process from onboarding is assertive that blend in a transition into retention.
Right and what would either go to the good steps for you for keeping that engineer for that.
You know that there in a year anniversary what are the things then that are important to get them to that one year.

Benjamin Jackson:
[28:48] Making sure that they understand what the path ahead of them is and and can see the career Milestones coming up.
Being transparent with them about you know what’s their future at the company.
What kind of projects are sitting out there in the planning stages right now that might be really really exciting for them in 6 months to 12 months down the line.
And in really making sure that their day-to-day is is enjoyable,
as much on sort of the the mission and and all of that the positive motivating factors that make them feel passion about the job,
Azan CertiFit what they call the hygiene side of things so everything from you know is the coffee machine broken 2 days out of 5.
That’s a problem what’s the situation with the bathrooms you know there are literal hygiene issues sometimes that make work difficult.
Acer laptop to 3 years old and too slow couldn’t get anything done do they have enough desk space.
Can I hear them self think in the office or is there always construction or other kind of noise around these are all things that really you know that they deeply affect people’s happiness in the day today when you aggravate them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:07] So if I’m maybe you talk about your your company right now and you have your sweet spot for you trying to take companies if.
If I’m an engineering manager at a smaller company and I’m looking to put in some process.
What are some of the first things you recommend for them to their enterprising forward-thinking engineering manager they want they realize I need some help how did it go back to it.

Benjamin Jackson:
[30:35] The first thing is some.
Well after after they hire a consultant even if they don’t hire a consultant the most important thing is.
I get a really deep understanding of what the actual problem is that they need to solve so,
you know it’s onboarding it’s a it’s a big scary sort of overwhelming thing,
but if you can pick off you know what’s the what’s the biggest problem that people typically have when they join your company it might be getting their laptop setup that’s something that you can fix pretty soon you know pretty quickly.
It might be there in people’s roles and responsibilities aren’t very clear after the first 3 to 6 months then that’s something you can tackle as well,
but you know I I caution against jumping immediately into.
Hey we’re going to build an onboarding plan here let’s start making a checklist because then you know you’re going to have a checklist and that’s pretty much all you’re going to have.
You’re not really going to have a plan or strategy because you’re not going to know you know what are your problems what are your goals how are you going to measure success.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:46] And so would you recommend then to trying to figure out what your biggest need is but just maybe a simple kind of question of your or some survey to maybe your current employees about.

Benjamin Jackson:
[31:58] Make a mix of qualitative and quantitative research is is always better than one of the other.
You know I’m a big advocate of one-on-one interviews I’m a big advocate of bringing in an outside moderator to conduct those interviews.
Especially it smaller companies where everyone kind of knows each other and I think you know I’m also a very big fan of,
going into those conversations with a clear plan for what the questions you’re looking to answer our because people will not give you a straight answer to the questions you really want to answer.
So you know if the question want answer is why why the half our employees quit within the first 6 months that was going to tell you that.
But you know if you’re running exit interviews people you know what they might tell you about what was the day that they decided that they were kind of going to check out what happened on that day.
And maybe there is some Trends there maybe there is a common Narrative of how people get the more lies to your company.
Animated another, Narrative of the people who actually love it and stay forever.
And that’s really the only way you’re going to find those things is by having those conversations and tracing the threats they run across multiple people and their experiences.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:21] And if a company wants to reach out to a consultant how do you recommend they go about doing that what should they expect when they’re going to reach out to a consultant to help them with some of these processes.

Benjamin Jackson:
[33:34] I think they shouldn’t expect to get us a lot of questions.
And I think they should have some answers to some of the basic things about you how many people work at your company how many people last in the last year.
And what is your effective turnover rate right now how are you know how long do people stay or company on average.
Why they should definitely know all the details about their current onboarding process in their current recruiting process in their current training development process,
because all of those are against that’s those are the first things that I asked cuz I really you know.
To Be an Effective consultant you need to understand where things stand right now and you need to understand you know what’s the future that these people would like to create themselves.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:22] And who typically is the one that’s originating these type of reaching out to two consultants in some firms like yourselves is it on the is it the engineering managers the hiring managers themselves is it HR some combination.

Benjamin Jackson:
[34:37] It really depends on the company you know sometimes I’ve been introduced to HR through a head of sales or VP of engineering,
I connected with a lot of HR managers in the,
you’re so that I’ve been running this consulting firm and sometimes it’s from the founder sometimes it’s even from one of the Venture capitalists who are investing in the founder.
My portfolio companies seen open a little bit rock and the people side we have such that we recommended them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:11] Sure.
Sure what other than any other should have recommendations that you would give towards companies or individual managers in trying to you no help there.
They’re pre-board they’re hiring in their onboarding process is like what is one of the top couple of things that additional things you might recommend.

Benjamin Jackson:
[35:32] Make sure that no matter how you’re doing it that,
the people responsible for execution on design and content really understand that the bar of quality that you need to hit,
people with natural background involved or content strategy background that’s super super helpful because it’s very easy,
I tended to do things halfway.
And say oh you know that’s that’s that’s good enough but those details they they will get noticed by candidates they will get noticed by by your employees and you know paint the underside of the drawers.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:12] Yeah definitely and one thing that I saw online is you are onboarding bot so tell me a little bout that.

Benjamin Jackson:
[36:24] Oh yeah so I have a launch this slackbot called Aloha last September on the slack app directory,
Aloha high is an onboarding automation bot so what that means is when you install it you set up a series of messages on a schedule can say you know after 3 hours I sent the link to the wiki,
after 12 hours send a link to our GitHub page so that they can set up their their account there,
and so the idea is really to ease people into some of that documentation that they typically get just in one big.
Panda on the first day.
And let’s see it’s been about 5 months I believe since launch now we were at around 230-240 teams.
We cross the 8000 user mark this week and we’re coming up on 20,000 messages delivered.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:27] Nice no I looked at it and it seems like a great idea.
Right I mean it’s just that it said it’s a concept of like those touch points right just kind of constantly reaching out and touching another person sky like an email drip campaign right but a but a little more you know fast.

Benjamin Jackson:
[37:44] Yeah I’m I’m in a few different non-work-related slacks and one of the things you see fairly often is when you first joined the slacks there’s a welcome bot,
that will send you a big long message with everything you need to know about that slack and you know usually the zip code of conduct and you know something about the channels and you know introduce yourself.
I’m in when I went to look into installing one of those myself I found it that all of them were just said they were scripts that you had to install yourself on Heroku.
I’m at Aunt wasn’t super straightforward experience and not something that somebody who wants to be a little bit more non-technical would be able to do so I just figured man,
this should probably exist there’s no reason for me not to build it it’s not rocket surgery and it should be free.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:34] Great I mean I actually I might even use it to figure out a way to use it into our kind of onboarding program cuz you’re getting ready to hire a a nice new cohort of people here so definitely thinking about using that so thank you for coming.

Benjamin Jackson:
[38:47] Well if you need help figuring out what to put in the Little Boxes for the messages that is one of my specialties.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:54] Okay and I’ll say I know I know the guy who wrote that right.

Benjamin Jackson:
[38:58] Yep.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:00] I’ll pull that carts one other interesting thing I happen to go in your Twitter and your background is Harold and the Purple Crayon right.
Which I love by the way and I read to my kids so tell me about that like I got to hear the story if there is.

Benjamin Jackson:
[39:20] I I read Harold and the Purple Crayon as a young child.
It always I guess spoke to me about creativity and infinite possibilities and I don’t know I was never very good at drawing as a child so it’s something I kind of wanted to do,
I learned how to draw in college I’m half decent drafty now.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:44] Yeah oh great I mean I got I got it too kind of smile on it and my face when I went to your Twitter so you know kudos for that right that’s awesome.

Benjamin Jackson:
[39:53] Thank you very much.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:54] Is that what if I if you’re the kind of list off of a list of some resources maybe books or blogs are TED Talks or anything that you might recommend for people to,
to review for managers whether it’s related to onboarding or not like to have a kind of a bucket list of things you might recommend.

Benjamin Jackson:
[40:14] So from managers you know if if it’s your first time managing people and you need the basics that’s a good book called The First Time manager.
There is a great book called the effective manager.
By Mark Horseman he runs a podcast called Manager Tools manager – tools.com which is also excellent.
And Leadership the effective executive is fantastic if if you haven’t read it you asked what we should.
I’m also in another book that I’m in the middle of right now that’s fantastic is called team of teams.
Former General spout to how the military operate in Iraq in times of great uncertainty not unlike the current startup Lansky.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:06] Okay excellent.

Benjamin Jackson:
[41:08] One other thing that’s worth mentioning is so a lot of the onboarding work in particular there’s a lot of it was called service design involve.
And that’s if you haven’t heard of service design it’s worth checking out,
it’s on used by places like guy Capital One and big banks are or Airlines,
I’m interested in Zion of services from top to bottom so not just the user experience but also the experience of every other actor in the system who supports the user,
I’m so free sample at Starbucks and I’m not just the people in line but the cashiers and the Mia maybe the people in the kitchen in the back.
And I definitely definitely worth checking out side there’s a book called practical service blueprints,
that website called practical Services Ein and I will I can send you a link to the show notes.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:02] Perfect I appreciate that guy friend ever listen out there I’ll take those information and I will put it on the show notes simple leadership. Io if you want to try to find some of the great resources that Ben has mentioned.
And then what is the best way to get a hold of of you and your purple crayon Twitter as well as usual or you know your new company.

Benjamin Jackson:
[42:21] Yeah so I’m the so the website is FTW. NYC.
Sicw like for the win the email is OMG at FTW. NYC.
I’m on Twitter and Instagram at Benjamin Jackson and for the win is on Twitter at FT WNYC Facebook at FT WNYC and on Instagram it FTW.
am I see that’s a. M i c I’m spelled out.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:55] Excellent and again I’ll try to include all of those on the show notes then I really appreciate your taking the time this afternoon to come in the show really had a good talk.

Benjamin Jackson:
[43:04] Thank you very much it was a pleasure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:06] Start thank you.

Benjamin Jackson:
[43:07] Tay k.