Do you even mentor bro? A lesson in best practice from our favourite unicorn
Canva is on an extraordinary growth trajectory - currently employing more than 400 people, with 300 in Sydney alone. In the past 12 months they have onboarded more than 280 people globally and more than 50% of their workforce started in the last year. They recently took the time to tell us more about their onboarding approach.
There’s no denying the impact of direct managers when it comes to employee experience - your level of engagement depends so much on who your manager is and how well you can build a relationship with them. Managers are important, but there are other relationships that can also have a significant impact on employee engagement, and that’s where mentors come in.
For the purposes of this blog, we’re thinking about mentors as people within an organisation, both inter-team and intra-team, and recognising the value that they have as part of someone’s onboarding (and ongoing) experience. For example, millennials who are planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. Mentor programs tend to be fairly unstructured, and the value that people derive from a mentor-mentee relationship depends greatly on the effort that they bring to the table.
Canva ❤️ onboarding
Enter Canva: a high-growth tech startup with a hiring velocity and embedded culture that demands a best practice, agile, innovative approach to onboarding. They’ve streamlined their onboarding processes to ensure consistency and one element of this it the approach to mentoring.
For example, every new employee at Canva goes to ‘Onboarding Bootcamp’ for their first week. The program is designed to introduce new hires to the business in an engaging way. After bootcamp, they are matched with other people in the wider business for random coffee dates so they get to know people beyond their immediate team.
Committing to the process
The other part of the onboarding process is the mentorship program. Canva is committed to making sure that every new hire has a mentor that is responsible for helping that person throughout their onboarding experience. With daily check-ins, the company relies on the mentors to ensure they are having quality 1:1 time with their mentee, so that they really understand any challenges that they are facing. Mentors can then flag any issues with the HR team.
The secret to the program’s success is the strong structure it is built upon, tapping into the strong culture at Canva and the fact that people genuinely want to help new hires. Once people reach the six month mark, they then have the option to take on the responsibility of mentoring someone else. If they have had a great onboarding experience, particularly if their mentor was incredible, they want to give that to someone else as well.
Canva has purpose-built a mentoring program and supported that program with an Enboarder workflow, automatically triggering off messages to the mentor at different times to give them reminders or to share information that they might be interested in.
Keys to success
Canva’s team invest a lot in making sure that they have great mentors. The expectations for mentors are made really clear via the program platform, including specific milestones and ideas for how mentors can better support their mentees. Mentors are expected to commit to a specific period of time, and the platform also adjusts the level of support that mentors receive depending on how much previous mentorship experience they have.
Through the use of coaching, helpful checklists, and nudges, Canva ensures that all mentors prepare an onboarding plan for their new mentee, usually about one to two weeks before they start. Mentors can also provide feedback using the program, allowing for constant improvement.
You can see the vision here and the beauty of the logic - new hires love their experience, so they then become mentors to then give back to the next batch of new hires and the cycle continues. The result? A great culture and a truly engaging onboarding experience. We can’t wait to see what Canva does next!