Building Process: Top Down and Bottom Up

Onboarding new employees is a fun and challenging part of growing a business. Your first few days on the job are always exciting and full of learning. One tricky part for the leaders actually performing the onboarding is coming up with training systems that are broad enough to apply to everyone (for efficiency), yet flexible enough to be valuable on an individual level.

Many times the individualized part of that equation means simply spending time with new employees. At a fast-growing startup, though, many new hires at once can throw the balance off quickly. Like most things in business, creating a really good onboarding process is just plain difficult.

This past week one of our new instructors at The Iron Yard came up to Greenville to spend time with Mason, our Lead Instructor. He brought along a video camera, a tri-pod and a list of questions. The idea was to record both me and Mason answering his questions (many of which were applicable to every instructor we hire) so that when new teachers are brought on board they can access that information immediately. Brilliant. (I’m thankful to work with people who take such initiative.)

While there are many things that new employees don’t know enough to ask about or need to be informed of, there’s also a lot of information that we as the leadership don’t necessarily know new employees are seeking, many times because we’ve never been through an onboarding process at our own company (we were here from the beginning).

We work hard to overcome that gap—in fact, we’re shipping a boatload of great onboarding resources this week—but our efforts at knowing best how to train aren’t comprehensive (at least not at this point). We need the input of the people going through the process because they can reveal the good and the bad from inside the process.

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

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