Companies’ aversion to mentorship is real, even to the point where some new hires aren’t afforded the chance to be appropriately onboarded. The truth is, many human resources formalities are useless—or at least viewed as such—whether its a startup with limited resources or a bigger company that chooses to devote its resources elsewhere.
So, if you do find yourself drifting through a new job without a roadmap on how to acclimate, there are ways to onboard yourself. It’ll require a bit more of an enterprising spirit than you might be accustomed to, but your efforts stand to be rewarded if you decide to take matters into your own hands.
Onboarding yourself starts during the interview process
One of the luxuries of being in the same room (or sharing a computer screen) with your prospective bosses is the ability to ask the right questions. Even if you expect a standard onboarding procedure, you can prepare yourself for its potential absence by asking about the your job and the company on a broader level. Ask the interviewer who you’ll be reporting to, what teams you can expect to collaborate with, and about the company’s longterm strategy and vision.
If you’re not being interviewed by one of your direct managers or if there are more senior colleagues on the team you haven’t met yet, email them to further express your interest in the job and, if it feels right, pick their brains about what their team does.
As Glassdoor puts it, “such proactivity may seem unnerving, but it could set you apart as a top candidate. What’s more, when you do land the position, you’ll be that much more prepared to hit the ground running.”
Understand who’s leading your company
It’s imperative to know who runs the company, where they come from professionally, and what they’ve done throughout their career. Does the company’s CEO or president have a history of promising the moon? Are they the type of corporate leader who’s intent on pleasing shareholders at the sacrifice of company culture? Do they clean their hands of a company once it’s been approved to go public, then move on to the next venture?
These are questions you can probably figure out by Googling the person in question or reading about prior companies they’ve led. A workplace atmosphere usually radiates downward, so it’s vital to know who’s calling the shots at the highest levels.
It’s also a good idea to understand your particular industry and the goals of various businesses within it. Startups, for example, often want to grow into a sustainable business before achieving the holy grail of going public. If you work in the publishing industry, particularly for a legacy house, the overall goal is probably vying for the books with the most sales potential. Those are just hypotheticals, but the greater business interests of your employer will invariably shape your working experience.
You’ll always learn more from honest coworkers than HR
The word “networking” might illicit a groan, but if you’re not getting a feel for things through HR, look to get a better understanding from honest conversations with your coworkers. As previously mentioned, you can always talk about work-related things with your colleagues, but you’ll probably find that many of your colleagues will be open to talking about company morale, the headaches you might encounter, and other things that an HR manager won’t typically divulge.
Of course, if you’re less than happy about barking up multiple trees in pursuit of company intel, you might want to opt for those with high employment satisfaction ratings on review sites like Glassdoor, or ones where you’ve heard positive things from trusted friends.