Starting any new job is a nerve-racking experience. You’re in a new place, meeting new people, learning new tasks and how to use new systems. This process is tough no matter what kind of job you’re starting, but it can be especially difficult for creative hires.
Creative teams are expected to work together, openly sharing ideas and criticisms. This is hard to do when you’re in a room full of people you just met and you aren’t sure how the office operates yet. For some hires, you may be able to get by with a quick tour, and then set them to work at their desk. This isn’t the case when on-boarding creative hires, however, and you need to adjust your approach accordingly.
Be Eager to Make a Good First Impression
In the hiring process, we often think of the person being hired as the one who wants to make a good impression. After all, they are the ones trying to land the job, who now have a new group of people they need to meet, and a new company to impress with their work. But while the new hire is certainly going to try to impress you, it’s equally important that your company works to impress them as well.
How your new employee feels about your company could largely be determined by their first impression of you. When you’re hiring quality talent your priority should be making sure they feel like they made the right decision, drawing on the reasons you both felt like this was a good fit. From the get-go, your goal should be to make this new employee feel welcomed and valuable. Make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for them. Doing so will help foster feelings of comfort and loyalty, making it much more likely that this new employee sticks around for the long haul.
Have a Plan in Place
Onboarding a new creative hire is as much about making them feel useful as it is about making them feel welcomed. It isn’t something you should make up as you go – you need to have a detailed plan in place. If you try to wing it, the new hire will probably be able to tell: the day will feel unfocused, important introductions or explanations might fall through the cracks, and the new hire will go home feeling unsure about there being a good fit. By coming up with a plan, you can ensure that you leave no stone unturned, and that your new hire gets everything they need to begin.
You should create an itinerary for the day which has a list of activities to get your new employee started. For example, schedule meetings with their soon-to-be coworkers or potential mentors so they can get acquainted. Set up a time for them to get familiar with their work station. Plan a one-on-one meeting with them at the end of the day to discuss any concerns or questions that may arise. You should fill the entire day with something, so that your new hire is never just sitting around wondering what to do.
With your itinerary in place, go over it with your current employees. Do they have any suggestions? What would have made their first day easier? Gather feedback and implement it into your onboarding plan to make it even better.
Finally, remember that the plan should extend beyond Day 1. A new employee isn’t going to feel at home after a single day, so schedule more events for the following days, and remember to touch base with them every day for at least the first week or so.
Give a Walkthrough of the Job
When your new hire arrives, part of your plan should be to give them a walkthrough of their job. This doesn’t mean simply going over the job description again. Here is where you really want to get into the day-to-day details of the job.
Show them a current project your team is working on, and what their job in it would include. Bring them into meetings so they can see how they operate. Take time to go over your project management software. If you have other employees performing a similar job as the new hire, take advantages of shadowing opportunities so the new hire can get a more personal view of the job. By the end of the walkthrough the new hire should have a complete understanding of who they’ll be working with, what you expect from them and how to go about doing it.
Communication is Key
Whenever you make a new hire, it’s important that you make communication a priority. This is even more true for creative hires as an open exchange of ideas is a crucial facet of a successive creative team. You can open the lines of communication easily during the onboarding process by doing two simple things.
First, make sure your new hire knows who to ask for what. Your new hire is likely going to have a lot of questions when they first start out, like how to submit work, office standards, even where to go for lunch. You’re not the right person to direct every question to, so you need to direct your new hire to the appropriate people. Introduce them, and let your new hire know how this person can help them.
Second, get them comfortable with their fellow team members. There’s always an adjustment period when entering a new job, but you can help speed along the process by having your new hire become familiar with the people they’ll be spending the most time with. Casual one-on-ones and team lunches are great activities for a team with a new member, allowing for communication in a more informal setting. The quicker your new hire becomes comfortable in their new surroundings – and with their new coworkers – the sooner they’ll start providing the type of work you hired them for.
Finally, creative people thrive in a creative atmosphere. Encourage your new hire to personalize their space by adding pictures, posters, music, etc., according to office policy. If you have an area that the creative team has personalized, encourage your new hire to contribute their own addition to the space.
Get Your New Creative Hire Going
Onboarding a creative hire requires a little more work compared to a normal hire. But if you can open the lines of communication, make them feel both welcomed and valuable in the office, and let them know exactly what is expected of them, you can make their transition an easy one. The result is a happy employee, and one who feels comfortable enough to provide you with excellent creative work for a long time to come.