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Onboarding – Digitally and with Heart
Successfully onboarding employees

September 15th, 2021 | by
Two women in a video conference smile at the camera

Nicole Kaminski interviewed as mentor for new employees

Nicole Kaminski is deputy group leader of the Marketing & Events group at the IT Center. She regularly accompanies new employees as they start their new jobs. In this interview, she tells us more about the responsibilities of the mentor role and the onboarding process in the Service & Communications department.

 

 

Nicole, what is important for you to get across to new employees during the first conversation?

“First and foremost, that they are not alone. Especially at the beginning, new employees have many questions and receive a lot of input. They get to know many names and many new colleagues. I think it’s important for them to know that they have a permanent reference person and that they can generally ask anyone at the college. I also try to quickly convey to the new employees that, regardless of whether it’s in the IT Center in general, in our department or in the group, togetherness and helping each other play a very important role. If questions arise, if something is unclear, or if you’re just looking for the right contact person – everyone helps, even in stressful situations.

We treat each other with respect, we accept each other as we are. We make sure that everyone can contribute. We give and receive constructive criticism to motivate our employees and to work on ourselves. Feedback allows us to assess whether we are on the right track and that is very important. Last but not least, it is important for me to convey that everyone can articulate their needs and seek open discussion. Open and transparent communication is very important to us.”

 

How do you become a mentor and what tasks do you have to perform as part of the mentoring process?

“In our Marketing & Event Management group, the task of mentoring rotates, but we make sure that you have the same area of responsibility. For example, I mentor the event management area, among others, and then also train employees for this area.

First and foremost, you are the first point of contact in all matters, whether organizational or content-related. In addition to making sure everything works technically, we impart basic knowledge about everyday work as well as processes and coordinate appointments with the experts on specific topics.”

 

In your opinion, what elements of mentoring are indispensable and should available to employees?

“On the one hand, the corporate values and organizational culture that I mentioned at the beginning. These should be communicate definitely. Once, which apply to the entire IT center, but also the department-specific and group-specific ideas.

In addition, a checklist is ideal – with all the points that need to be worked through. In addition, an overview of all the access points, tools and services that we use and that are part of our everyday work. For example, in which team room the group meetings take place. Here it is important that they get an overview and know where they can find what.

Not to forget, of course, the introduction to the college. It is important that the new employee sees a face. Especially in the home office, it’s something completely different to get to know the colleagues. That’s why, when I make appointments with the experts, I try to use as many different ones as possible so that the new employees get to know lots of new faces.

 

What differences have you noticed between digital induction and on-site induction?

In summary, I have to say that I find it more strenuous to train digitally. You’re always available, you do everything online, and you talk an awful lot. Of course, I also do it on site, but it’s easier to network the person with other employees. I think the biggest difference now is that in the beginning the focus is only on me as a mentor. Which is logically, because you don’t see anyone else at home. That’s something different than if we were sitting in the office. But through various training courses and discussions with experts, we try to network quickly. In addition, above all, the technology has to work perfectly. That’s really the most important thing to sort out for the first and second day. Does VPN access work, do you have access to teams and the other communication channels? That’s something different than on site, in the office. For me, these are additionally coordination tasks that have to be taken into account when working in a home office.

In addition, there is a lack of interpersonal contact. On site, new employees get to know new colleagues even at the coffee machine, and at home you are very limited to the people in your group and department. You get to know almost no other people from the house, unless you accompany projects and are involved in campaigns, but even then only individuals. Locally, you meet outside, in the house or at the coffee machine, talk a bit and get to know each other. That is really lacking.

The company parties are also not taking place at the moment. Here, the new employees otherwise have the chance to build a different relationship with their colleagues and get to know each other better. There are online formats, but I don’t think these can replace the face-to-face events.

 

Mentoring and being there for each other sound really good – but also like a lot of effort. Is the benefit really that great?

I’m honest about that. Sure, it’s very time-consuming. It takes a lot of time, but I think it’s always worth it in the end. I’ve already trained several people in our group and I know what it’s like to start somewhere new. You’re glad to have a permanent person to guide you through the new jungle. Otherwise, the new employees quickly feel lost and overwhelmed, since so much new information is already piling up on them. That’s why I believe that this always pays off in the medium and long term. Particularly in view of the fact that the person will support you in the team tasks in the future, which of course also ensures quality. If the induction process is structured and you always work through the same points according to the checklist, everyone is at a similar level. A familiarization concept has been developed in our department for this purpose. This pays off and is a good investment in the end.

In summary, the mentor role brings with it a great deal of responsibility. I want to train employees efficiently in the long term, shape them in the process and also ensure that they make a social connection within the team and the college. It’s a more demanding and time-consuming induction process than many new employees may be familiar with, but it’s definitely worth it, and so far we’ve received very good feedback.

 

Responsible for the content of this article are Nicole Kaminski and Janin Vreydal.

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