Nine months ago when I started a new job at Augury, Israel was in the midst of the first lockdown. The company was already growing fast when $55 million in new funding turbocharged hiring. Over the last year, Augury onboarded more than 50 new employees remotely in the midst of a pandemic. I was one of them.
I have been a backend developer for five years now mainly working in high scale, asynchronous, microservice environments. At Augury I work in a product squad that is responsible for the downstream events coming from our AI engine into our backend ecosystem. Augury designs its own sensors which monitor machines in manufacturing plants. We collect mechanical data from the sensors, run it through Machine Learning algorithms and provide machine insights that prevent unplanned production line downtime for customers like ICL, Heineken, and Colgate-Palmolive.
A month in, all was going really well in theory. I started getting assignments from my squad. But I still didn’t feel as connected as I wanted to be to the other members of my team. Everyone was super nice, but integrating into a team that used to work together face to face made me feel left out.
Augury is a very “take things into your own hands” kind of place, and they encouraged me to define my own process. I tried to be as upfront as possible about my feelings and that it was comforting to know that not only my own manager but the whole company was committed to helping me fit in.
Now I give a talk once a month to new employees about onboarding where we exchange tips and thoughts. Here are some of the signs that a new employee has successfully onboarded.
- Make a positive impression: All I wanted was to make the people who hired me feel that they had made the right decision.
- Make some friends: For me, having people I can talk to is really important. When I lack that, I shut down.
- Produce new ideas: I want to be that person who can look at an existing issue, domain, or problem and provide a fresh point of view.
- Feel comfortable contacting your superiors.
AMP stands for Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, a formula for motivation. The R stands for Relationships because this is something that we, at Augury, find to be a key factor in motivation. One of the company’s mantras is “People first”.
- Fake it till you make it: It’s hard onboarding remotely, especially during a pandemic. I decided to put all insecurities aside and behave as if everyone were my best friend. It’s so easy to misinterpret other people communicating via video or text. When I told HR how I felt, they were shocked because they thought I was fitting in perfectly. My reasoning was that when you behave negatively, it creates a negative first impression with others. Thus, be positive and assume everyone is your friend.
- Take assignments as fast as possible: This has a big impact on your social integration into the company. Working remotely eliminates all those water cooler chats. Having a conversation with other people in the company becomes something that you have to orchestrate. Starting to work on an assignment that will make you talk to people is very important.
- Everyone is having a hard time: As a new employee it’s easy to think that things should revolve around you, but we are in a global pandemic. Many people are stuck at home with their kids or are anxious and on top of that we are all learning how to work together in this new world. Do yourself and the people around you a favor and give them the benefit of the doubt.
- You’re not too cool: Don’t take the social events the company suggests for granted, even if it’s just a silly online party game or coffee breaks with your team. Use those opportunities to make connections.
- Do it yourself: Your independence is more crucial than ever. In the new remote/hybrid work setup we don’t have someone sitting beside you who can help. Try everything yourself. Create your own cheat sheets. Set up your own environment and more.
- Time management is key: You must learn how to manage your time effectively. For instance, I take an 80:20 approach to solving problems. I try to do 80% myself and then text anyone who can help. By the time they answer, I’ve either managed to solve the problem by myself or worked on other ideas so no time has been wasted.
- Push yourself into interesting conversations: When you are new, it’s a good time to ask a million questions, but timing is important. Be patient, keep your questions and suggestions to the end of a conversation or even to later on in private. Once you have earned the “you’re cool” badge, then you can be more assertive with your thoughts.
- Don’t say “yes, I already know”: Whether it’s something you’ve done in a previous job or someone else already explained it to you, don’t say “yes, I already know” because you usually don’t! Different people have different perspectives on the same topic. You can gain a lot of knowledge from a second explanation.
- Don’t say no to any task: It’s a win-win situation. If it’s something you know well, so will impress your teammates. If it’s something new, well, the best way to learn new things is just by doing them. Being able to learn and adapt is one of your key capabilities, so be open to it.
- Clearly express your expectations: When you start working at a new company and feel that your team is not the right fit for you, be upfront about it. Give the managing team a change to make the adjustments necessary to improve the situation.
- Understand the strategy: We are all part of a bigger picture By understanding it you gain expertise and purpose. I am a backend developer, so for me, this translates into “don’t be a code monkey”. Find meaning in the role you play in the company and make it your own.
- Take advantage of opportunities: For me, this correlates with being able to produce new ideas. I find joy in creating a new solution, from the small stuff to the large. This is what drives me.
Now that nine months have passed, I feel very connected to my team and to a lot of other people in the company. I have also been promoted to squad leader. So who knows, in a few months you may find another post from me talking about how to lead in a hybrid work environment in the midst of a global pandemic.