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Designing an Onboarding Experience that’s Engaging and Supportive: Q&A with Adriana Roche, Chief People Officer at MURAL

Apr 6, 2022| Reading time: 10min

BY Kerrel Brown

Senior Marketing Manager

Adriana Roche is the Chief People Officer at MURAL, which offers a digital-first visual collaboration platform. She recently earned the recognition of being a 2022 People Pioneer, a peer-nominated award celebrating HR leaders who are pushing boundaries to positively impact their companies and employees.

We sat down with Adriana to learn more about her work at MURAL, which includes scaling the team over 5x in 18 months, designing an onboarding journey that welcomes and supports new hires, and serving as a coach to MURAL’s leadership team and CEO.

ChartHop: What is your role at MURAL?

Adriana Roche: My role at MURAL is a very exciting one. Not only do I manage the team that supports hiring, engagement, and retention, but I’m also very linked to the mission of the company: To level up teamwork with imagination, so that working together is more fun and innovation happens faster. As our CEO says, what we do is what we sell. It’s incredibly important that we continue to transform the way in which we work and harness the power of visual collaboration.

CH: Over 5x headcount growth in 18 months is quite the feat! How did you lead your team in ensuring MURAL was an attractive place to work in a hypercompetitive talent market?

AR: Focus was incredibly important and identifying the most impactful things to prioritize. We already had an incredible culture and product. My challenge was to ensure MURAL had a stellar recruiting team to match, to attract and retain the best talent.

Additionally, we created a 30-60-90-day plan program. These are essentially learning paths during onboarding with expectations included, to help employees (known as MURAListas) ramp up quickly and ensure they feel like they belong.

MURAL is a fully remote team. We do not have any restrictions on location when it comes to hiring, which allows us to hire high-quality and diverse candidates from around the world. If those reading this are interested in viewing our open positions, please check our Careers page and get in touch!

CH: Successfully onboarding employees is critical to engagement and retention. How did you and your team approach onboarding at this scale? What programs or processes were put in place to ensure MURAListas got ramped up and felt they belonged faster?

AR: We think about it from a user-centered design approach. We asked ourselves: What do we want to do? What outcome do we want to achieve? What do we want the experience to FEEL like? It was not built in one day.

The great thing about working at MURAL is that we have our product at our disposal. Through our product, we can lay out an engaging 30-60-90-day plan in a visual way that excites the new hire and really illuminates their career journey. Our onboarding still accounts for all types of learners because information is accessible through murals (visual), The Record (traditional reading material), and interactive in-person sessions with the leadership team. All of these different venues of information help to create an onboarding experience that is truly supportive to our diverse team, especially entry-level teammates.

The end goal of a 30-60-90-day plan is to create a super engaging and supporting experience for new hires, no matter what career stage someone is in. In our high growth environment, we designed it to be fully adaptable to what the employee needs, and we trust managers to tailor the plan accordingly.

CH: With so many new team members, how did you approach maintaining the company culture? Were there any shifts in culture as a result of the rapid growth? What foundational aspects of MURAL’s culture were critical to remain the same?

AR: First it’s important to define what IS culture and what is OUR culture. Culture will happen whether you want it to or not, so it’s really important to be deliberate about what kind of culture you want. Define your values, what do they mean in practice, and make sure you embed them into everything you do. From hiring, to performance reviews, to how you make decisions, and how you recognize and reward people.

One of our values is ‘Make others successful’. New hires who join MURAL are often pleasantly surprised by the generosity, kindness, friendliness and compassion of their team members. When we became a certified Great Place To Work in 2021, one of the positive aspects of MURAL that survey participants mentioned the most was “the people”. MURAListas live by the value of supporting each other, celebrating our wins, picking each other up after a failure, and being lifelong learners dedicated to improving how we collaborate together.

CH: On top of all your work scaling the team in a short period of time, you also serve as a coach to MURAL’s leadership team and CEO. How did you go about building trust among this group to serve in this capacity? What are some of the best practices from your executive search background have you brought to this work?

AR: The key to building trust is being of service to people. Not necessarily doing everything they ask you to do, but what they need you to do. Anticipate next steps without being asked, do what you say you are going to do, be consistent and reliable, and most importantly, show that you care.

Perhaps this is a skill that I honed from working in recruiting. In that capacity, you need to build trust with both the candidate and the hiring manager. The best way to do this is by listening, being really good at your craft, and being authentic.

CH: Do you have any advice for other people leaders who want to take on a similar role in working with executives and securing a seat at the leadership table?

AR: To earn a seat at the table, you cannot forget about the craft of HR. Employees are the most valuable assets a company has. As the head of people, my voice is representative of the thoughts, opinions, and desires of hundreds of people NOT at the table so it’s my job to ensure they are heard. When a company communicates appreciation for its employees, those employees, in turn, are likely to appreciate the company. They also tend to demonstrate increased productivity and loyalty.

When I first became the head of people, I learned you need to understand the inner workings of the business just as much as your peers. Otherwise anything you do from a people perspective will be disconnected. In addition, your work will be as much doing as it is influencing. To be successful, learn how to help the executive team make decisions, know how to understand and interpret data, and draw actionable conclusions from it.

CH: What are you most excited to accomplish in 2022?

AR: The last 18 months at MURAL were focused on building and scaling the company at a super rapid speed. Now that we have some of the foundational pieces in place and are starting to gain momentum, I intend to focus my attention on transforming the way in which we work. From iterating on our bi-weekly All Hands Meetings, to implementing Rest & Recharge Days, to increasing DE&I efforts within MURAL in the form of cultural celebrations, events, training, and employee involvement. I look forward to an exciting 2022, bringing collaboration, fun and creativity to MURAL’s global employees every day.

More Lessons from the 2022 People Pioneers

Interested in even more lessons learned from HR leaders? Check out the full list of 2022 People Pioneers for inspiration on how to approach critical initiatives like embedding DEI into company culture, supporting employee well-being, and revamping performance management.

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