Onboarding: Founders’ Lunch

This post is #4 in our series of Onboarding tips, to accompany the Onboarding Check-ins product that we’ve recently launched.

A great tool for bringing new people into the company is a Founders’ lunch. My general approach is to take all the people who have joined in the last month or so out to lunch with the company founders and senior management. Keep it small – 4-6 people max, intimate enough that it’s conversational, not just another presentation by the founders. You want a dialogue. Go around the table have everyone introduce themselves.

Then ask everyone to answer two questions:

  • What went well with your onboarding? What didn’t? Obviously, you want to improve the process. But you also want to establish the culture of being receptive to criticism and feedback. Make it clear that you want to hear any constructive criticism they have or ideas on how to improve.
  • What’s one thing that your previous company did, that we should start doing? You want to learn from every new person who joins the organization. You hire diverse background and skillsets to help improve how the company operates, and bring new view points. What tools did their past company use that you could benefit from? What processes? What culture?

While the answers to these questions are important – the cultural values they underscore are too. Your management is engaged, present, and cares about everyone’s opinions. They want feedback and constructive criticism. Every new person is bringing a valuable perspective to the team and you intend to start benefitting from that perspective as quickly as possible.

An ancillary benefit of the Founders lunch is also cross-team connections. If you don’t have a formal on boarding “boot camp” type process, a new hire lunch can establish a sense of a “class” of people who have joined the company at a similar time, introducing them to some people outside of their immediate team.

I recommend the lunch be 2-4 weeks after a person joins the company. Early enough to be impactful and have their hiring and onboarding be top-of-mind, but late enough that they will have seen enough of the company to have some useful perspective.

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