The buddy system
One of our most popular onboarding programs at Plante Moran is our buddy program. In addition to having an assigned team partner, each new staff member is assigned a buddy. Buddies typically have at least two-to-five years of experience, are technically and technologically proficient, have a positive attitude, and are good listeners. This means from day one, all new hires have two people assigned to their care and development, which helps build loyalty and morale immediately.
Having a buddy is proven to help new staff adjust to the firm, and buddies often become good friends outside of work. Recently, I heard about a staff member from Cincinnati who refers to her buddy as her “life buddy.” In addition to sitting in on her career planning sessions and acting as a sounding-board whenever she has a challenge, her buddy has stored her fiancée’s furniture in his basement and recommended which credit card she should get so as to optimize rewards points. He even offered to teach her how to change her oil—although she hasn’t taken him up on that yet.
My first buddy at Plante Moran was Les Pulver, an audit partner with our governmental practice. He was an encouraging mentor who gave me great feedback. On a personal level, he counseled me through buying my first house and helped me find a world-renowned specialist for a medical problem my eldest daughter had when she was an infant. My wife and I went from feeling helpless to comforted that she was going to get the best possible care.
One story I don’t often share is that Les also counseled me when I received another job offer during my third year at the firm. The job paid a lot more, which was enticing, but Les helped me take a long-term view to consider where I could be in five, 10, or 20 years. I’m not sure any of us thought I’d be managing partner, but Les was absolutely correct in that there was much more opportunity for me here than there would have been elsewhere.
The buddy program is one of Plante Moran’s most enduring programs and one of our most important. As critical as it is to have a supervisor who serves as a mentor, it’s equally critical to have a peer you can talk to about anything—professional or personal.
What about you? Does your company have a similar onboarding program? Do you have a peer at your company that serves as a confidant and advocate for your career?