However, the challenge it creates is how you onboard new people when you have never met them face-to-face? This is a challenge we have faced as we entered into growth mode in January, and here are the three key things we learned about how to adapt to make this work.
Set your people up with the right kit
The tech you give to new starters is incredibly important nowadays, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. New devices, the latest software and up to date digital tools all show that you are willing to invest in your workforce.
No matter what industry or level you’re hiring at, you will need to train new starters on your systems, procedures, and product portfolio. You basically need to get them to feel like part of the company as soon as you can.
We do excellent induction so that our new people get to understand our business from the very start. This is a 4- day course which introduces our people to our senior team, our products, our strategy and finishes with each of them presenting their blueprint for future success.
All our new starters get a training plan on arrival, and this gives them a sense of purpose and helps them to feel included from the get-go. Agreeing goals and objectives at the beginning of your new people’s journey with the company gives them ownership of their personal development. Review progress regularly and give clear, constructive feedback. We use our engage platform for monthly 121s, although we would recommend more frequent informal catch-ups in between as well.
We have invested in a Learning Management System that guides our people through the knowledge they need to perform well in their new role. This journey is supported by our Knowledge team, sales coaches, and leaders.
Before remote working was the norm, our culture was very much focused around our offices. People working in one of our 6 locations would feel a sense of belonging to their office and part of the wider business. We invested money and effort to make the office a great place (cafes, pool tables, table tennis, etc.). We worked hard on building these local communities with organised events and fun activities.
Now the offices are no longer the hub they used to be – we have worked hard to build that sense of team across our virtual platforms, especially Microsoft Teams. However, beware that stats suggest that there is a tendency for teams to become more siloed and lose touch with the wider business, now that the opportunity to bump into people is no longer there. Our Cultural Ambassadors are working hard to get around this, organising virtual company-wide events and fun activities. They have set up weekly coffee hours, where two of our CAs on a rota are on-line, ready to have a virtual coffee and chat about anything with our people.
Our senior management team also used to spend a lot of time travelling between offices to meet their people face to face. This is now impossible and has freed time up. It is tempting to focus on other matters, but we need to remember that the reason for the travel was to meet, engage with and motivate your team. Leaders must develop other ways of making their people feel valued, especially with new starters.
Outside of company-wide events, ensure you organise regular team-building exercises — schedule time to get to know your team. Have one-on-one coffee breaks as you would if you were in the office.
It’s no secret, it takes a special mix of ingredients to become the UK Best Company to work for. Our people, their ambition, sense of fun and the passion to work as One Team are what set us apart from the rest.
Stephen is an experienced telecoms & IT professional with over 35 years industry experience. After graduating from the University of Manchester, Stephen started his career with Lister and Co PLC working for them for 12 years, rising to the position of Head of IT.
Stephen then set up Hoodpoint Communications, specialising in providing ICT, Data and Voice communications and business phone systems. The business was sold to Chess in 2005.
Stephen stayed on at Chess, rising to the role of Group Managing Director in 2012. He became Chief Operating Officer in 2020 and runs the operational teams day to day as well as Marketing and Commercial. He is also closely involved in Chess M&A activity.
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