New Kid On The Block

by Ovative Group
July 19, 2016

What’s unique about being new at Ovative/group?

Being new is hard.

At some point we’ve all been the new kid on the block (and I’m not referring to a part of the pop boy band from Boston). Whether it’s a new job, school, gym, or city… we’ve all been the “newbie.”

I have had lots of experience being the newbie. My career has spanned a variety of industries and sized companies both in the US and abroad. As an extrovert, I generally enjoy the first 30 days in a new position: meeting the team, understanding the role, learning the culture, establishing a personal brand, and trying to add value quickly. However, one area continually plagues me as I transition to a new role, and I know I’m not the only one. It’s blending in. Blending in with those around the office, trying to avoid the awkward mistakes any new person might make.

Blending in.

Bring a paper bag lunch?

kitten bag lunch

Where to sit once you get to lunch?

lunch dog

Show up in the right conference room?


Avoid embarrassing battles with the copier?


Where’s the bathroom? Don’t mistake the entrance to the latrine and end up in the wrong bathroom in your haste between meetings?

bathroom oops

…and the list goes on.


The fear of making mistakes in a new role often forces new hires to spend a significant amount of mental energy and time focused on blending in. Time that could be spent absorbing information, building relationships, and taking action. As I have transitioned into new roles in the past and facilitated onboarding for new team members, the theme of ‘blending in’ has bubbled to the top again and again. First day presentations typically focusing on dress code and policies, workplace tours highlighting what not to do in the office, isolating cube designs, and cookie cutter 30/60/90 day goals all contribute to new hire’s interpretation that they must blend in to succeed.

What’s unique about being new at Ovative/group?

Fast forward to my first 30 days at Ovative, which have been filled with a mix of traditional and non-traditional onboarding activities focused on helping me find my fit within the organization, not just blend in. So what really made the difference between finding my fit and just blending in? I boil it down to three aspects: 1) top down support, 2) have fun, and 3) keep moving.

1) Top down support. The focus of my first conversations with managers and leadership was around what I bring to the table that is different from my team, different than my peers at the organization. This conversation coupled with the question of “What do I want to do at Ovative?” have come together to create a powerful and empowering first 30 days.

When I asked what’s the recipe for success at Ovative, the answers have been simple and consistent from peers to leadership:

“Be yourself”

“Don’t take yourself too seriously”

“Be fearless”

Not to mention… a few “Let your freak flag fly”

2) Have fun. Injecting humor into the workday not only breaks down boundaries by putting people at ease but can also help increase creativity and productivity. They say laughter is the best medicine andstudies agree there are benefits to keeping your team laughing.

Non-traditional onboarding activities dedicated to having fun and meeting peers are a staple at Ovative. From Shuffleboard onboarding to office-tunes DJ training, the non-traditional activities get everyone laughing, smiling, and instantly reduces the fear of making mistakes. However, the long term impact can be even more important. These non-traditional onboarding trainings give new hires an opportunity to meet the team and establish relationships so when questions come up, the new hire has many resources to go to for support.

3) Keep moving. Onboarding activities are spread across the first month of work, interjecting learning into each day. No week long onboarding session that keeps new hires secluded from the team. At Ovative you immediately integrate with your team working on day-to-day tasks while having a robust onboarding schedule spreading learning across the first month. Spreading the content out helps reduce new hire memory overload (I can’t remember my own name much less my email password…) and gives attendees an opportunity to bring quality questions and dialog to the onboarding sessions based on the day-to-day work they have started.

Quality of content during onboarding sessions is important, but allowing ad-hoc conversations and dialog to happen is equally valuable. Ovative has developed a diverse onboarding schedule providing new hires exposure across business units to the work happening at the company. Not only do new hires get to learn the language, but they get an opportunity to ask questions and understand where they fit in the big picture of the organization.

Why it matters?

A successful team isn’t driven by people with the same backgrounds, skills, and experiences. A successful team is driven by the harmony created by diverse members. Changing my mind-frame from “how can I blend in?” to “how do I fit?” instantly took away the newbie stigma and made me feel OK to be myself.

Eliminating the fearfulness of making mistakes allowed me to focus my time on learning and getting involved in the organization right away, providing value and making an impact far quicker than I had in any previous role. I am proud to be a new hire at Ovative, just recognized by Star Tribune and WorkplaceDynamics as one of the Top 150 Workplaces for 2015.

What can you do about it?

Eliminate fear for new hires and embrace new team members for what they bring to the table. This needs to come from leadership and flow through the entire organization.

Create a diverse onboarding schedule that has formal and informal training and focuses on what is really important, preparing new employees to be successful in their role and equipping them to do the best possible work. Don’t forget a healthy dose of fun – doctor’s order.

Keep new hires moving with the content and people you expose them to. Make sure they get a feel of everything the organization has to offer, so they can start to think about what role they want to play at the organization and what they can bring to the table often above and beyond day-to-day work.


If you want to learn a little more about my first 30 days at Ovative, check out 3 other unique findings below!


What else is unique about Ovative/group?

From a new hire’s viewpoint…

1) Injecting inspiration and learning. In my first 30 days I often felt like I was back in a university classroom being inspired by thought leaders, business leaders, and entrepreneurs alike. Ovative has a unique focus on injecting learning and inspiration into the work day. On a regular basis Ovative hosts guest speakers to come into the office and engage with employees. Often a simple, brief presentation with Q&A to follow. Allowing employees to think differently about their work and engage with leaders within the digital marketing space and beyond. The list of speakers includes the most decorated slider of all time (luge Olympic athlete,) the creators of the dogs of Instagram, investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs, and many more. Check out ourFacebook page to see more recent speakers.

Internally, Ovative hosts some of the most experienced SMEs in digital marketing services. What is even more impressive is the organizational drive to leverage SMEs across the organization for projects. Within the first month I have projects engaging thought leaders across the business, with the opportunity to explore marketing spaces I have always wanted to learn more about. Beyond project work, there are weekly opportunities for all staff members to attend internal talks highlighting trends and learning in the digital marketing space. No pressure to attend, just additional learning opportunities Ovative provides all employees to support development of industry leaders.

2) Employee driven programs. Employee driven programs are commonplace at Ovative. Employees are empowered to design activities, in and outside of the office, that support employee growth, development, and the inherent desire to have FUN.

Bring your child to work day. The most successful and well organized bring your child to work day I have been part of. Driven and organized by team members, the day consisted of employee interviews, a scavenger hunt, job panel, create your own business workshop, and last but not least juice boxes, pizza, and hover boards.

Darts, ping pong, shuffleboard oh my! Competition is core to Ovative’s culture. As new hires join the organization they encounter a host of activities to participate in with their team. From dart and ping pong tournaments and games of shuffleboard with clients to weekly sporting leagues, Ovative supports the activities employees hold dear.

3) Collaboration. We sit three feet from our team members, don’t have cube walls, and we are ninjas at accomplishing group tasks. One of my biggest fears moving from a corporate structured office to an agency floor was my ability to collaborate while still effectively completing my workload. After the first month I asked myself, “Why does collaboration work at Ovative as compared to other organizations?” The answer I’ve come to: successful collaboration is rooted at the core of Ovative’s culture and employees are willing to pitch in but have a mutual respect for getting shit done.

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