The Internet is full of useful advice about the onboarding process, but there is almost no information about internal onboarding – when you are an employee and do a side move between teams. That is what I want to talk about in this post.
Onboarding is a process when you start a new job at a new company. Larger companies have their script about the first day/week/month or maybe a larger interval of a new hire.
The employer part is to introduce you to your team, give you the necessary hardware and software, talk about the company, the organization and helping you to start your new career.
As an employee, your part has the same importance. Your goal is to create a good picture of you. Sometimes you spend more time with your co-workers than with your family so you can gain a long-time benefit with some networking. You also learn about the organization, the customers, the short and long-term goals, the company culture and so on.
Why do we talk about internal onboarding?
Maybe you are wondering, why should I take care of internal onboarding? There is no change, I just moved from team A to team B. Who cares. Please read this article carefully and maybe I can answer this question.
Your old team. Prepare to leave
You know that you are going to move. And you know where. Now the question is what is your legacy? Are you leaving a messy disaster behind you or close your previous career?
What do you want? Do you want your manager and your team to open a bottle of Champaign when you are telling them that you want to leave, or you want them to ask you to stay?
Firstly, you must close you pending projects and pass your knowledge and your ownership to your teammates. You prepare your team to work without you. You don’t want daily phone calls about your last project, do you?
Secondly, if you have a vision of your project or projects, share it with your manager. Create a to-do list about what you would do if you stay. How could you improve? Maybe your ideas will be ignored or maybe, you make an impact without doing the implementation. You cannot lose with that.
Handle good relationship. You cannot know what will be in the future. Maybe 3 months later, you will work with the same team again. There can be organizational changes, or you can have a common project. In that case, I bet you want to have a good rapport – and it is a rule: you want people to have a good picture of you.
Prepare to your inside onboarding
You have a good reputation with your old team. And you are going to build a good reputation with your new team. That means you plan your inside onboarding. You not just leave on your last Friday at team A and start at a new desk on team B, but you proactively prepare yourself.
If you do a sideways move inside, you have great opportunities. You know who will be your next manager, you can check the organization structure, create a list of your future teammates and so on.
There is my recommendation about the preparation phase
Schedule a meeting with your future manager
Ask who will be your manager. Be proactive, schedule a one-on-one meeting with him or her during the first day, as soon as possible. When your next manager is reading the meeting request, they will know that you are serious and at least, you have some soft skills. If you put some topics into the request message, you show the next level of preparation. You don’t want to do just a small talk, you have exact topics.
And prepare to ask a lot. You want to lead the conversation. You show that you are eager to learn about your team members and the culture.
Collect non-official information about your next projects
Don’t wait until your first day – ask the team members about the ongoing projects. About future projects. The roadmap.
Ask about the technology stack. Try to identify the gaps in your knowledge. And you can start to learn.
Inside onboarding – the first few days
Be an early bird – at least for one day
On the first day, you should be the first person in the office. You wait for your team at your desk and say good morning, have a nice day to all your new teammates.
Talk with each person if it is possible
Try to talk with every team members if you can. You can ask about almost anything – but of course, please don’t be harsh – your goal is making connections. That is the team that you will work with so you have to know the individual persons.
Learn the official roles
Learn who is responsible for what. There is no question, your goal is to know who to ask if you stuck with something. And you don’t want to walk around at every single case when you need some help.
Learn the non-official roles
I have worked with multiple teams. Good teams are close to a well-organized player team. There are a supporter, a tank, and a carry. And, there is a lead. And sometimes these roles are doesn’t even close to your official team structure.
Sometimes the team leader just a supporter. And there is another person with a good reputation who controls the team indirectly. Your task is to identify these roles. I saw a team when the leader was unable to make decisions and always accepted the idea of the same person. What do you think, in that case, who was the real leader?
Get some beer
During the first week, ask your team to go outside of the office. Eat well, drink well. Hear good stories and tell good stories. Build a personal relationship.
Your first month
You have some or a lot of existing knowledge. Your manager maybe knows nothing about you. And you really don’t want to be handled like a brand-new guy who just now came to the company. Talk to your manager and the technical lead and create a plan for your first month that both sides can accept. Show them you know exactly how you can be a useful team member in the period as short as it possible. Maybe they had a plan about your start how they can gain benefit from you in two months. Show them you can be useful in one month instead.
Write a project and role journey
At the end of the first month, you want to get an ownership of a project. So, in the first moment, I recommend you write a journey. If you see some unfilled gaps or possible projects, you write it down. Ask the key members about their most painful problems and create a list. Prioritize your list based on their impact on your career. And schedule a meeting with your manager at the end of your first month.
Gain a domain knowledge
Buy a notebook. Not a Dell XPS but a paper one. And if you hear a new information about your domain, write it down. Try to create a private wiki page for yourself about the domain. Gain knowledge about your business domain.
First sight, inside onboarding comparing to change an employer, seems to be an easy task. But think about that, it is not easier. It is not harder. It is different.
Please think about that.