Maintaining our healthy company culture is a deeply held commitment for us at XPLANE, and we see onboarding as a critical part of that effort.  Onboarding is more than ensuring people have the physical tools they need to do their work.  They also need the social and emotional tools to feel empowered, supported and excited for their new chapter.

In support of this commitment, we are trying a new-to-us tool for welcoming new team members – an onboarding journal. The journal is effectively a diary, kept by new team member’s for their first 60 days, that uses a simple but effective Plus / Delta framework.

  • Pluses are positive things which should be kept or continued in the future
  • Deltas are things that should be reconsidered or done differently in the future

“Things” here can be anything new team members observe or experience: behaviors, tools, practices, processes, and so on.  Here are some examples from a recent hire’s journal (shared with his permission).


  • Warm welcome, everyone willing to be helpful
  • The “Designer Confessionals” video was good to watch for perspective on the designer / consultant relationship
  • Description of company service offering history (1.0 to 2.0)
  • General background on how xTeams work on projects together and the overall process
  • Designer overview with tips/tricks for live drawing in client workshop sessions



  • Need a glossary of company jargon & acronyms
  • Wish I could do more self-onboarding by reading or watching videos while I’m still not busy
  • I get why we use Skype but recommend Hipchat
  • Wish there was a shared collection of brushes/core assets that other designers use
  • More client-work shadowing opportunities
  • Better roadmap of when/which client projects I will work on and a way to ramp up on them



You can see the list ranges from small to bigger things; some are well known, others are eye-opening.  But the point is information is flowing and engagement is happening.  Based on results so far our hope is the onboarding journals will bring short- and long-term benefits for both the company and new team members.

Benefits to the Company

  • Fresh perspective on our company with each new hire
  • An ongoing record and helps us identify trends and outliers in people’s experiences
  • Surfacing best practices from previous employers for us to consider
  • Rapid insights into new team members; how they think and how they are doing in their first 60 days

Benefits to the new team member

  • A general mindfulness during their onboarding experience
  • An opportunity to contribute to the company from day one and see and feel that their opinions are valued
  • An outlet for the negative or confusing experiences that can be common in joining a new company
  • Orientation to our plus / delta culture, which is solutions- vs. complaint-oriented – and sets an expectation and practice of positive contribution to company culture

Have you tried or experienced anything like it?  What onboarding practices have you found effective?