Why not onboard existing employees?

So much has changed in the past few years, what about starting this year by re-onboarding your team? It’s a great opportunity to revise, renew and refresh.

Assume nothing, and onboard everyone as you would a new employee. Why? Because we’ve had a whirlwind couple of years and there’s a fair chance everyone is feeling a wee bit unfocused. Added to that, ‘the great resignation’ is real, as is the skill shortage, so employers need to keep current employees happy.

Onboarding is the opportunity to (re)share your vision, your values and your thinking. Better than that, it’s a chance to listen to others in your team talk specifically about work. Everyone has had the chance to work independently. That may mean they’ve found new ways to work, or new likes and dislikes.

Here’s what ‘onboarding’ may include:

  1. A semi-formal physical one-on-one with each employee. Even if you are still working remotely organise a coffee meetup outside the studio. Send a short email letting them know your thinking – a fresh start, a new year – and invite them to a coffee catchup.
  2. Sharing your elevator spiel – the succinct ‘who we are and what we do’ you would deliver to someone who didn’t know your studio and what your vision is for this year.
  3. Ask employees what they think is their superpower. What they’re good at and how they can apply those skills to their current role. It may differ from your assessment – it may even differ from reality – that’s the value. It’s the one way to manage expectations.
  4. A great exercise for everyone to do is a Personal Journey map. A Personal Journey map is based on a Customer Journey map and is a perfect tool to help identify your distinctiveness.  Want more info on personal journey maps? Contact me and I’ll send you mine (or hang on one week, more info coming 😉
  5. Take the opportunity to do or update everyone’s personal appraisal forms. It’s a great chance to identify new skills or emerging skill gaps that could be fixed with. Email me if you’d like a copy of the personal appraisal forms we use when we work with studios.
  6. Finally, use the onboard exercise to update your expectations. Like how often you expect employees onsite. How progress and updates will be tracked. What guidelines you want for meetings. And most importantly, where this type of information is stored and how everyone can access it.

Take away

Now is a great opportunity to revise, renew and refresh. What better way is there than re-onboard the whole studio?  Take the opportunity to state the obvious, remind yourself and others why you’re doing what you’re doing.

This article was inspired by “It’s Time to Re-Onboard Everyone,” by Liz Fosslien
What do you think? Got any problems/questions? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

Carol Mackay
Co-founder Design Business Council.

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About Carol Mackay

After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.

Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.

As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills … she helps designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is a Board member at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.


An archive of Carol’s previous career is at mbdesign.com.au.
Current work can be viewed at designbusinesscouncil.com and designbusinessschool.com.au.

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