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Ensuring A Consistent Onboarding Experience

Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm

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Problem

"Over time, we started to get feedback from our employees that their onboarding wasn't very fluid and that it had worsened over six months or so. You could almost watch this happen. Employees who had joined our company six months prior had felt very welcomed, and had a great experience, with a clear mentor to ask questions of. However, people hired more recently weren't as happy and didn't feel as welcome."

Actions taken

"The problem was difficult to tackle, as the challenge wasn't just an engineering one, it was an organizational one. We had a great coach who was working with us at the time, so we found a way to leverage that. She was working with our Executive Management team, but we found out through the grapevine that she was working on a set of actionable items for our Executive Management to tackle. What we took out of that was building some squads made for the sole purpose of taking on a problem, really getting to the root of it, and then tackling that problem. The one I chose to lead was onboarding. We then completely revamped and rebuilt the old engineering model of onboarding by making enhancements based on research we had undertaken. We then presented the onboarding process to the entire company, and the company started using the same model."

Lessons learned

"This resulted in new employees coming in with a much more meaningful sense of what they could deliver and ship from day one, and what they could expect to accomplish in their first week. If you don't provide people with structure or communicate well, both within teams and across departments, your onboarding will suffer. Half of management is setting up expectations, and when our onboarding process lacked structure, our employees suffered because they were so uncertain about what was expected of them."


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Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm


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