How Front’s design buddy system is grooming new hires to become future leaders

Stephen Jordan,

Product Design at Front

23 February 20220 min read

Work is better when you have a friend you can trust right by your side. Learn how the design team at Front uses design buddies to support and challenge each other to become better designers every day.

Being the “new kid on the block” at work is never easy. There are new things to learn and people to meet before feeling like you’re really part of the community. How will you meet your first friend? Is there a person I can go to with questions, no matter how “stupid” that question is?

And how about someone I can go to that I can share my wins with?

Being the new kid on the block comes with all these anxieties — and that’s what I was preparing to experience during my first couple of weeks as a Product Designer at Front.

Yet, to my surprise, I felt immediately at ease in my new role. Front had anticipated this common scenario by implementing a “Design Buddy” system that made me feel welcomed and productive during my first week at work.

Here’s a closer look into what a Design Buddy is and how it not only helps new hires with onboarding but also grooms them to become future leaders.

Onboarding

The responsibility of a Design Buddy is to assist a new designer through their onboarding tasks and to be the contact for any questions a new Fronteer might have. Since onboarding takes time and everyone approaches new experiences differently, the role of a Design Buddy is more than just answering questions. It's checking in on new hires and engaging in conversations beyond work.

My Design Buddy Emma reached out to me multiple times during the week just to have a conversation. She made me feel like a human, rather than just face on a Zoom call. She was curious about me and offered her time when I didn’t ask for it.

Design feedback

Starting your first design project can be scary. Every designer at Front is extremely talented, which was intimidating. What if my work isn’t up to par? How can I ask basic questions about our design system?

During one of my first projects at Front, I was overwhelmed as I struggled to produce design ideas for a new feature while still learning about the product. I reached out to Emma for help. We jumped on a Zoom call to discuss the design challenge and thought through options together. After the call, Emma sent me a message to help me reframe the way I was thinking about the project and made me feel confident moving forward.

A Design Buddy is more than an onboarding assistant—they'll always happily help you think through design problems and challenge you to become a better designer.

Creating relationships beyond the design team

The remote work environment we now live in makes it tough to establish relationships with others especially when new to the company. Yet, creating relationships is one of the most important things you need to do to successfully collaborate and learn from others. One of the ways my Design Buddy helped me overcome this issue was by introducing me to others beyond the design team.

I quickly got to meet coworkers in Product, Engineering, and Marketing who all helped me better understand the collective effort that makes Front excel. A Design Buddy is more than an onboarding assistant and a collaborator. A Design Buddy is also someone who will help you expand your relationships at Front.

Mentorship and friendship

To me, the biggest value of having my Design Buddy was the mentorship and friendship that we were able to create. A Design Buddy doesn’t disappear after your onboarding phase. For me, Emma continues to be a role model by how she works, presents ideas, and treats others. She makes my remote experience feel like I’m a part of something genuine every day.

Through this partnership, I not only felt like I was accepted in a new team, but I also learned what it meant to be a great Design Buddy—so I can become one next A Design Buddy is more than just an onboarding assistant, a collaborator, and a connection. A Design Buddy is a mentor and friend.

Can your team benefit from the Buddy approach?

For anyone looking for new ways to make new hires feel welcomed, consider a similar Design Buddy approach. The beautiful thing about this system is that it starts with an inward focus by recognizing the co-workers that surround you. Who on your team would be a great "Buddy"?

How can you be a "Buddy" to someone else? What were some apprehensions and questions that you had when you first joined your company, and how can you use your experience to help new hires on your team feel confident? Maybe being the new kid on the block isn’t so bad when you have a friend to turn to on your very first day. Maybe that friend is you.

If you’re interested in joining Front’s mission to help people work happier, check out our open roles now!

Written by Stephen Jordan

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