ACT 3 OF 7: A PATH FOR GROWTH by Auri Mathisen
Every newly hired designer at Silver Fox goes through the same two-week training program designed to provide them with a technical background in PowerPoint. This onboarding program is run by senior designers and has seen many iterations based on evolving business and client needs. In January of 2019, I had the opportunity to take over the onboarding process for our new designers and have since continued to mentor the designer team.
The model for training at Silver Fox is that designers not only receive ongoing training, but they actively participate in the creation of new trainings and are able to teach their peers, which provides learning opportunities and harvesting leadership skills.
From onboarding to…?
While the onboarding process does an excellent job of equipping new designers with the basics, there is still a period of “ramping up” so the new designers can grow to the same level of efficiency as the seasoned designers. In response to this growth period, we hold a variety of designer-led trainings as opportunities for designers to hone and refresh their skills. As a more senior designer, you can advance your skills by participating in the Executive Level Certification. We value the continued exploration of our design learning and encourage all our designers to participate in these trainings.
Why extended onboarding?
In between their initial onboarding and Executive Level Certification, designers must learn crucial communication and time management skills while honing efficiencies in PowerPoint. As a result, I created the Extended Onboarding program to actively continue mentoring new designers after their initial training. The purpose of it is to bring the new designers up to speed by developing project communication and advanced design skills.
What does this look like?
As I’ve grown as a designer, I’ve learned that communication skills are critical to a designer’s success and career. Not only does it mean listening and interpreting the client’s needs, it also means conveying expectations around timelines and next steps—especially as you grow into a one-on-one executive support role. As designers gain status within the company, they begin to take more ownership of their client relationships; these skills are foundational to that work.
When putting together the workshops for Extended Onboarding we wanted to prepare new designers for these executive types of client relationships.
Additionally, a key part of being a successful designer at Silver Fox is understanding the team dynamic. Good communication is part of the fabric of strong designer and project manager relationships and why we can serve our clients so effectively.
Advancing design skills
After fully exploring communication and the designer’s role in the creative process, I developed the second half of Extended Onboarding to focus on advanced PowerPoint techniques and storytelling. Designers are each given a script for a presentation and tasked with translating this into a slide deck. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do, as our designs serve only to enhance the speaker’s message. In this workshop, we take designers through multiple group critiques, which is an important process to fine tune our skills, as well as gain practice speaking to our own designs.
Using this method, I have been privileged to learn from several talented designers at Silver Fox and utilize their unique PowerPoint hacks to this day. Our culture of shared knowledge is what makes us a strong and informed design team!
Recently, we had four designers go through Extended Onboarding: Anna, Cody, Keelan, and Iuliia. They all presented impressive final projects that showcases their skills and growth in their time at Silver Fox. We are excited to see how future classes of new Silver Fox designers will continue to bloom!
In Act 4 of our blog series, we will share in depth information about our onsite operations and some of the many places we get to travel with our clients.