Moving the Matrix Group Underground to the Foreground

With all the hiring we’re doing right now, my team decided that we better revisit all of our orientation guides. Orientations work like this at Matrix Group:  we ask staff members from all teams to help with the orientation; we give them an outline and they do the session.  Spreading the orientation schedule around means we cover more in a short period of time and new staff get introduced to all teams in a more meaningful way.

When we started reviewing our existing guides, we found that the majority of them were too sparse. If you were lucky enough to do orientation with an earnest old-timer, you got lucky; otherwise, lots of things were missed.

So a bunch of sat down, revisited topics, and came up with 2-4 page guides for each topic.  Each topic has a sub-topic and talking points + specific things to cover.  The guides are working out very, very well.

One new thing we decided to create is a “Matrix Underground” guide, or the things you should know but nobody every tells you. We realized that it’s things on this guide that tend to trip people up or leave people bewildered.  For example, there are expressions that we expect people to know, acronyms,  and Joanna-isms that a person could take years to figure out.

Most things on the guide are funny, but some are dead serious.  Some examples:

  • Sumner is the part-timer on the MatrixMaxx team who works in the afternoons (recent hires said they spent six months trying to figure out who the heck Sumner is).
  • When Joanna says “can you do me a favor?” or “I need something from you,” it means “she needs something done NOW, not tomorrow, not next week, now.”
  • When someone says “the cheese has moved,” it refers to the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” that we read as a company several years ago and it means “dude, the situation has changed, let’s move along and get over it.”
  • You should always be super-nice to the network administrators, who just might be the most powerful people at the company (because you know, they can read your e-mail and they can help you recover your new Windows password that you changed yesterday and promptly forgot.)
  • You should never, ever, ever say “I’ll try” to your manager, Joanna or a client.  Do or do not. There is no try.

I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to admit we have an underground and that we need to help people get up to speed on it!  The Matrix Group Underground Guide is a work in progress.  The “guide” will be discussed during the walking tour that new hires get treated to during their first week.  The idea behind the walking tour is to familiarize new team members with our physical environment, you know, things like where to get the best sandwich, where the closest ATM is, where to get a good salad.  From now on, we’ll supplement the walking tour with a discussion of the Matrix Group underground!

How about you?  How does your company help new hires get up to speed on your underground?

5 thoughts on “Moving the Matrix Group Underground to the Foreground

  1. I forgot about the Matrix orientation until just now. I loved my walking tour. It was a great way to get to know people away from the office and not feel so out of sorts in a new environment. Until then and since then, my orientations have consisted of me pestering the heck out of people to figure out how things work. I think the new Matrix Underground Guide will be a nice addition.

  2. being able to broach this ‘underground network’ and embrace it shows a strong sense of company culture. by identifying what are ‘truisms’ among tenured staff, and explaining them to new-hires in a non-exclusive manner, Matrix Group has to be a very self-aware and welcoming atmosphere.

    to take it a step further, and actually document this type of ‘tribal knowledge’ is indicative of a well functioning and cohesive group of folks at the company. i’m sure new hires will find the addition of this ‘underground guide’ to be a refreshing highlight of the employee handbook.

  3. Same, we spread the orientation job around. We also allocate a “buddy” which is someone who has recently been orientated so is fresh enough to understand what it’s like to be new, experienced enough to explain processes, but not their direct boss (usually a peer in the same or different department). The new “hiree” then has an extra person to go to if they can’t find their boss/supervisor to ask a question. I have found our team is much more cohesive since we introduced the “buddy” system, attrition went down dramatically (new staff felt more supported) and overall a much happier team.

  4. What a great idea to assign a relatively new buddy to new hires! We sometimes assign buddies, but they’re often old-timers. I love the idea of buddying up with someone who has gone through the orientation relatively recently and has a fresh memory of what it’s like to be new. Thanks for contributing to the discussion!

  5. Yes we used to assign an old timer but often what the new hiree would get was gripes and old information, not the updated way of doing things. So a buddy that is mediumly new, who is is still enthusiastic about what the company represents, I’ve found is perfect. It also gives the new hiree someone to “bond” with instantly, another “almost newbie”. This technique (suggested by another “almost newbie” at a team meeting when discussing the orientation process) saved our team a few ago and we’ve never looked back, our HR has never been so healthy.

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