Boosting the new team member experience: Beyond the usual onboarding

Welcoming a new member to your organization is an important and exciting process for both the employer and the incoming team member.

Onboarding efforts offer the opportunity for a new team member to become familiar with the organizational procedures, knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their new role. Research also has shown that effective onboarding leads to better job performance, a greater commitment to the organization and overall job satisfaction.

Typically, this transfer of knowledge comes in the form of meetings and printed materials — and we do a lot of that at The Broad Center.

  • Our hiring managers give their new team members a calendar of their first three to four weeks on the job that includes the key meetings, training sessions and onboarding activities in which they will participate.
  • In addition to the standard employee handbook, we share various documents that outline our vision, mission, core beliefs, theory of action, professional values and the work of our Diversity Council. We also review our organizational evaluation framework and strategic goals, as well as dashboards that show our progress toward those goals. Some of this onboarding is done directly with our executive director and the new team member’s managing director to build those relationships from the start.
  • We discuss our vision for talent, including our performance management framework and professional development opportunities. 
  • We schedule three- and six-month skip-level meetings with the manager of the new team member’s manager. This provides a way to check in on how things are going and share feedback — without the appearance that the team member is complaining about their manager. It also helps to build a relationship between these two people and creates a space for any potential concerns to surface.
  • Each new team member meets with our communications team to work on an “elevator pitch,” where they begin thinking about how to talk about their work in a concise, meaningful and clear way.
  • We provide training sessions on all core systems, processes and computer software.

We also host several other onboarding activities that are a little less traditional to help our new team members develop connection with their colleagues and the organization.

  • Before a new team member arrives on their first day, they are given the opportunity to have a “culture chat” with a member of our talent team. These conversations provide newcomers with a safe, non-evaluative space to ask questions they may not have felt comfortable asking during the interview process — questions that can help ease their transition into the role before they start. Knowing more detail about how to interpret our office dress code, how to ask for time off for a doctor’s appointment or whether you’ll be expected to work on an upcoming holiday can sometimes lessen the anxiety around starting a new job. 
  • We pair new team members with an “onboarding buddy” to welcome them into The Broad Center culture and foster strong collegial relationships. It helps to have a colleague who is at the ready to offer advice about where to find paper clips or the cheapest places for lunch nearby. Onboarding buddies can also navigate bigger questions about why we do things in the organization the way we do them.
  • We schedule several informal “meet and greets” with each sub-team to help our new colleagues get to know everyone else’s roles and responsibilities. We’ve found that being able to talk with people in person helps things sink in a lot more than studying an organizational chart.
  • Our long-standing tradition of informal, all-team “snack-n-chat” meetings is a fun way to get to know our fellow team members and what makes them tick. We go around the room, and every member of our team asks our new colleague a question that has little to do with work. “What three famous people — past or present — would you most like to have dinner with?” “What is the kindest thing someone has done for you or someone you know?” Before we close the meeting, we turn the tables and our new team member chooses a question for everyone else in the room to answer.
  • Our new team member and their manager connect formally and informally to share their own work styles and expectations. 
  • We record a short, personalized welcome video from their immediate team to make sure our new colleague laughs at least once on their first day in the office!

But it doesn’t stop there. We are dedicated to the continuous growth and development of our internal team — just as we are dedicated to developing the next generation of urban education leaders. We provide a variety of opportunities for our team to gain experience, hone skills and broaden knowledge through off-site workshops, informal conversations, opportunities for collaboration, activities led by affinity groups, executive coaching, shadow experiences and professional development opportunities, as well as other supports that help our team do their best work. We also provide opportunities to connect on a personal level through social outings and events. 

We are always happy to share what we are learning and learn more about what others are doing. Please email us at


Here’s what some of our newest team members have to say:

“The onboarding process is very thorough and tailored. It not only allowed me to gain familiarity with the organization but also get accustomed to the culture.” — Christian Bradley, Operations Associate, The Broad Residency

“From dining spots to work etiquette to getting to the nitty gritty of our work together, my onboarding buddy has been so valuable as I’ve tried to adjust to the organizational culture at The Broad Center.” — Mike Kerr, Associate Director, The Broad Academy

“I am truly grateful for the official onboarding process where I learned about professional development supports, expense reporting and the dress code. I am equally thankful for the ‘unofficial’ parts of the onboarding experience like having an onboarding buddy to ask informal questions, being invited to join the Asian American & Pacific Islander affinity group and having some sort of team, manager or group lunch every day my first week. These are only a few examples of how onboarding created a truly welcoming experience.” — Melody Moon, Operations Associate, Alumni & Network Impact

“Coming from a previous professional experience where there were no formal onboarding activities, The Broad Center’s onboarding process was genuinely helpful and enjoyable for me. It’s nice to have an onboarding buddy, and the snack-n-chat is a great way to let the office get to know you in one fell swoop.” — Rob Kasher, Associate Director, Alumni & Network Impact

“I had an amazing experience for my onboarding process. When I came in for my first week, I was nervous and anxious, but that all went away with the support of my team and everyone at The Broad Center. A wonderful part of the experience was the coffee chats, which not only was filled with lots of laughs but were also very informative. Snack-n-chats, however, were my favorite part and my most memorable day at The Broad Center so far. I got to appreciate the support and warm welcome that I continue to receive to this day. I can definitively say that the onboarding process helped to successfully integrate me into the The Broad Center family. Each day I am happy and excited to come to work.” — Fernando Ayala Vaca, Operations Associate, The Broad Residency

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