This is the fourth and final article in our series on team onboarding, a practice at Leverage to Lead where we go beyond traditional onboarding and decide to evolve as a team, together, when a new colleague joins us. Read about the origins of team onboarding here, read about the most uncomfortable parts of team onboarding here, and read about how team onboarding reshaped our values here.
Team onboarding didn’t just help us excavate and evolve our values; the process pushed us to revise several of our HR policies and practices. Here’s everything we changed.
A Job Description
Team onboarding was happening while we screened and interviewed candidates for our Program Manager position. Looking deeply at our values and working through our learning blocks made some gaps clear.
It’s no surprise that getting clear on our values made it easier to write a thorough and detailed Program Manager job description. Not just the job responsibilities, but areas like the capacity needed for personal growth and development and the ability to hold space for conflict and discomfort.
We also wanted to provide a foundation of stability and clarity from the very beginning of the relationship with a candidate–which starts when they read our job ad. Expectations create psychological safety.
When we do our tri-annual partnership reviews, we rely on each team member’s job description to guide our conversation about performance, goals, and growth. The job description articulates our day-to-day responsibilities and what it means for someone at Leverage to Lead to collaborate, take risks, and thrive. Once we revised our job description, examine our performance review questions naturally followed. One example is that, since our values shifted to emphasize relationship building, performance evaluation began to include reflecting on the health of our relationships with our colleagues.
Performance reviews are one of many choice points that help each person understand whether and how they want to be in their position, with the values currently articulated. People have left the team because they decided ours wasn’t the way they wanted to work. And that’s ultimately a good thing. It’s always a good thing when someone exercises their autonomy and makes a free and informed decision.
The Interview Process
When we screened candidates, we got really clear. From the first conversation with Kim, candidates heard about our values and commitments, our emphasis on relationships, and our rejection of urgency. We wanted them to know what they were opting into if they chose to move forward.
Then, we revised our interview questions, which are tools for continuing our conversation about the job description. We invite candidates to interview because their resume shows the experience and skills that align with the position. So we don’t ask them to reiterate those aspects of themselves while in conversation. Instead, we use interview questions to understand a person–how they think, approach challenges, collaborate, learn, and handle conflict. We also know that interview questions communicate to the candidate who we are and how we work.
So our questions needed to reflect the requirements in the job description and allow candidates to share their perspectives and values.
During interview training for our team, Kim shares our approach and philosophy–the job description, screening, and interview are the beginnings of our relationship with any candidate. We are connecting through all of those points. Everything that follows–hiring, onboarding, reviews–aims to deepen that relationship. In the end, we are not evaluating whether someone can do a job. We’re really creating a relationship that allows for and encourages change. That is what diversity actually brings us.
With this relationship-based approach, we can drop so many of the “rules” we once adhered to–ones that positioned us as gatekeepers, or that didn’t let us be fully human during interviews.
How We’re Still Growing
There are many other parts of our organization that Team Onboarding is influencing. The next area for us to review as a team will be our HR policies and benefits. We’re starting to schedule discussions about vacation, leave, sick days, reimbursements, and more.
All the work of revising our policies and processes started with our values and continues to stem from our values. When those evolve (again) we’ll evolve everything else to follow suit, continuing to lean into the discomforts and delights of change.