Guru On Guru: The How and Why Behind Our Employee Onboarding Process

Last verified Apr 22, 2021

Employee onboarding is too important to leave to a handful of meetings and a slide deck. We don’t just encourage our users to make the most out of the onboarding experience with Guru, we practice what we preach in-house. A lot of planning, empathy, and intent goes into each employee’s onboarding experience at Guru. We spoke with our Lead People Operations Specialist Bobby Lundquist about what he does to ensure that new members of the Guru team have a stellar onboarding experience.


On the experiential part of the onboarding process

For me, I like to think about the onboarding process as creating an experience. I used to work in hospitality before I came to Guru. I was really focused on creating experiences for people whether it was at a restaurant or during an exciting vacation. I like to think about curating an experience during the onboarding process because it's a journey for people who are starting at the company.

There are a lot of emotions tied into leaving your previous gig and starting a new one, it's an entirely new chapter in someone’s life. That’s why I like to think of onboarding as setting the stage to create a memorable and lasting experience that's going to make someone feel like they made the right decision coming to Guru.

On using Guru to calm the information flood

When you start the onboarding process there are two main kinds of information: what you’re given and have to process, and what you don’t know and have to hunt for. Guru and the tools we use with it play a huge role in making it easy to share and understand knowledge.

Guru is the ideal tool for keeping things organized, up to date, and easy to process. New employees are absolutely flooded with information when they start working. You’re learning how tools work, diving into project work, and figuring out little nuances about company culture. Employees have to quickly get up to speed on everything they need to know to excel at their jobs, and the onboarding process needs to respect that.

It’s equally important to have what you need to do organized in a way that makes sense and can evolve over time as you grow with the company. Our new hires can see a thorough plan for their first 90 days of work, but we organize it in a way so they don’t feel like they have 50 tasks waiting to be completed in Asana.

On the benefits of having a single source of truth

One of the biggest problems people experience when they start a job is figuring out what they need to know. You need to learn all of this stuff about the company, how it works, about your role, about how your team does things. Most companies store this important info across several documents, but they aren’t the best way to get people up to speed. Long Google docs and company wiki articles aren’t just tough to browse, it’s also hard to tell if they’re up to date without giving them an in-depth read. Discover how to onboard new employees more efficiently.

Having Guru as a single source of truth eliminates some of the confusion that comes along with starting a new job. When you use Guru, you're getting easily searchable bite-sized bits of information.

Our Verification feature makes it easy to see if what you’re reading is up to date. If you happen to find an old Card you can easily reach out to the right person to verify it or answer questions.


On the need for human connection

I don't want the whole onboarding process to be, "Okay, you have all the information that you need to do your job in Guru; don't bother your teammates." It's more like, "You can look at information in Guru, but may have some questions about what you read. Here’s how you can find out what you need.” I think that's really different from just asking someone "What is this?" and then having them answer. That’s how you have more meaningful conversations with your colleagues.

I think that there's some information that’s better communicated through personal interactions. Rick [Nucci], our CEO, does a core values overview with all new hires. He'll talk about what inspired the values, what they mean to us, and also take time to gather feedback about people’s onboarding experience and answer questions.

Our onboarding process does contain a task that asks people to read over company values in a Guru Card, but it's a totally different experience when you're having a round table discussion with the CEO. There's a balance you can strike between having information shared in one source and creating human connection by having live communication.

On the ripple effect bad onboarding can have

It’s important to look beyond how the onboarding experience affects new hires and consider how it impacts the whole team. Let’s say a new hire starts and they can’t find the information they need to start working. They end up heavily relying on their manager or co-workers and spend most of their day asking them questions. See how to cut the average cost of onboarding while still creating a great experience.

Now the manager and team members don’t feel like they have time to focus and get their work done. This makes them worry about the new hire’s ability to independently work and wonder if they made the right choice. On the flip side, the new employee is feeling very lost and stressed on their first day, and now they’re wondering if they’ll stay at the company. See how so many potential negative outcomes can come from one simple mistake during onboarding?

The onboarding process is an employee’s first in-depth experience with a company. If you have a process that’s too confusing, lacks the right information, or just makes employees feel unwelcome, you have a major problem. That can create long-lasting damage.

On the power of employee autonomy during onboarding

Post-hiring, the main mission is to support new employees and coach them on what happens next instead of just giving them information and answering questions. It’s important to give new hires autonomy and freedom during onboarding so they can make connections with their team and establish themselves as a part of the company.

Using Guru, especially with other task management tools, gives managers and their direct reports more of their time back. It reduces stress during the onboarding process and gives people the time and energy they need to focus on what they do best.

Giving new employees more autonomy allows them to get things done their own way. Everyone needs a little direction when they’re new, but you don’t want to stray into micromanagement. We don’t go into the onboarding process thinking, “Do it exactly like this by this time or you’re behind.” Instead, it’s more like, "You have the autonomy to handle this and manage this process yourself because we trust you to handle it in the way that it's going to work best for you."

On how companies can improve their onboarding process

Before you get into the tactics, really ask yourself what experience you want to create. Think about it in terms of designing a journey for the employee and have really clear metrics so you can determine success. Once you figure that out, you can dive into problems you can solve. Are you seeing pain points directly related to the number of tools you use? Is it hard for people to find the information that they need? Are there gaps in your communication that lead to confusion? Start big, then break things down into actionable steps.