The First Week
As a manager, there are few moments in the employee experience at Frontier that I have come to value more than the first week. It’s not only formative, but it’s also the first opportunity they have to meet every member of our phenomenal team. And over the last few months, I have had the joy of guiding two of our newest Lead Consultants (Leigh and Clay) through those first few days.*
At any new employer your first week is critical, and yet there is something I find to be unique about a first week with us.
In week one at The Frontier Project, you realize you’re a part of something special. We have some processes, but there’s no playbook. No solution we provide fits in a box–our clients and their challenges are too diverse, and our creativity is too relentless. Things change quickly, and we nimbly respond. Combined, these realities lead to a pretty amazing (but never the same) day in the life of an employee here. So how do you set expectations for the unexpected? How do you shed light on what success looks like in the ever-changing, dynamic life that is Frontier?
Below is the approach that I have begun to take with our team. Like our clients, we need employees that are prepared to work in the unknown. In that world, there isn’t a process map, a product sheet, or a one-pager that can save you.
So, this is what I told Leigh and Clay that first week.
I can not and will never be able to lay out a perfect path to success, but I can orient you to the mental frame that will serve as a guide to your success.
Focus on your mindset.
Mindsets are at the core of my onboarding process for Lead Consultants. Frankly, there are no other guidelines or performance indicators that I will set for you today. We have broader company cultural imperatives like our Success Statement, but as your manager, all I ask is for you to carry five simple mindsets. Most importantly, I want your core mindset to be that you have joined something special. If we believe this place and the people we work with are special, it will fundamentally change the way we approach our work and our colleagues. I can not and will never be able to lay out a perfect path to success, but I can orient you to the mental frame that will serve as a guide to your success. I believe this approach is also critical because I never want to do anything to stifle your creativity or the unique insight you bring from your unique background. If I drowned you in “this is how we do things” lessons your greatest value to our company would be lost forever.
Set your emotional expectations.
There’s an emotional ride that comes with any new role. I want to chart the emotional journey of the first year here. In the first three months of joining our team, you will likely have a high anxiety moment of feeling you have really messed something up. Let me know when it happens. We can talk about it. Months 6-9 will bring clarity at Frontier. It takes time to meaningfully contribute to a client relationship, multiple phases of a project, and see your unique impact. All three cement your confidence. Some months will bring emotions we can’t predict. We just know they will come, so don’t be alarmed when they do–instead, lean into them. The emotional high/low is natural, your leaders know you’re going through it, and those moments are critical inflection points for learning in your new role.
We believe you will do great things. We’re so freaking excited you’re here.
* Let’s give credit where credit is due. I am one voice in the chorus of individuals on our team that enable our newest colleagues to do their best work. Kudos to Kelsey, Jess H, Ned, and countless others who make the first week so special.