Joining Thread

Stephen Cook

My first day at Thread was the 2nd of February. I ate a good breakfast, left early, and got on a train that was immediately held at a red signal for 1 hour.

A good start to a new job.

A Good Start

Fortunately, I knew from my interviews in December that everyone was fairly laid back. You can read a little about Thread's interview process here.

My line manager (Jack) wasn't fussed when I emailed him to say I'd be late. He pushed back our 1-to-1, and even made sure I had a cuppa before we got going.

A cup of tea makes everything better.

My Desk

One cup of tea later, I arrived at my desk to find that Thread had got me some welcome gifts. A nice touch for my first day, and something to make my new desk look a little less barren.

3 books: Clean Code by Robert C. Martin; The Lean Startup by Eric Ries; and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

I haven't finished them all yet, and am currently enjoying Tony Hsieh's "Delivering Happiness". Any book that talks about electro raves as an interlude to business insights gets a huge thumbs up from me.

1-to-1

Everyone at Thread starts their first day with a 1-to-1 with their line manager. Everyone does 1-to-1s differently, but Jack and I talked about:

  • what team I was in, and what they were working on
  • the format of the rest of the day
  • setting up a recurring 1-to-1 between the two of us

Jack also emphasised that the 1-to-1s is just explicit scheduled time to discuss issues: it's not the only means to do so! I often just grab Jack for a quick chat if anything is particularly on my mind, or if there's feedback that I think is best discussed right now.

Office Tour

Next, my "buddy" introduced himself to me. Your buddy is someone not in your team, so you have an impartial ear to ask questions to if you need it. They will help you get set up with email and Slack, as well as generally being available to help for the first few weeks.

My buddy was John, and I've had a few lovely catch-ups with him since joining.

John took me around the office, showing me the sights. We saw the studio, where we have catered lunches, and company-wide meetings:

the studio

As well as the phone booths - quiet places to take a call, or even have a nap:

phone booths

He also took me around everyone's desk, introducing me to anyone not in the middle of something. Everyone was very welcoming!

Welcome Lunch

Once I had thoroughly forgotten everyone's name, it was time for my welcome lunch. Around 8 of us went to a tapas place, and helped ourselves. We had a silver-tongued waitress, who managed to sell us several plates more than we thought we needed. After lamenting not having anyone with us who haggles in their day-to-day, we headed back to the office.

If you're hiring for a salesperson, I can put you in touch.

2 Weeks Later

The following 2 weeks were made up of:

  • meetings with function leads
  • values training
  • "desk time"

Meetings With Function Leads

These meetings give you an overview of what each department in the company does.

I got to chat with the head of Marketing, and ask some questions about the department's marketing strategy. I spoke to the head of Operations, to get an idea about what problems they face.

Slowly, I built an idea of what everyone at Thread did (and began to actually remember names).

Values Training

Lots of companies have issues with their values. Goldman Sachs for example had "Integrity and honesty" as their core company values. These were their values during the 2007 financial crash scandal. These were their values when they were allegedly manipulating stock prices in 2003. Some might argue that manipulating stock prices is not "honest".

So how do you ensure that your company values are actually valued by your company? Thread does a few things to value its values, which you can read about here. But for a new joiner, Thread achieves this with some training that focuses on what the values are, why they are important to Thread, and how to live up to them.

Training like this can often be pointless, but Thread pulled this off. There were clear examples of people exemplifying the values, and the positive reactions that came out of it. There were relevant goals set for me to focus on after the training. It was clear that Thread did care about the values.

Desk Time

I've worked at a few places now, so I know the frustration of a solid block of meetings in your first week.

No-one expects you to be shipping large features in that first week, but it's still so frustrating to not be helping your team do things.

Thread spreads your initial meetings over a couple of weeks. You also get explicit "desk time" booked in, so you can start getting on with actual work, undisturbed.

I was able to get the most out of the meetings I was having since I was working at the company alongside them. Much better than trying to absorb information with no context.

Later Still

Half a year later, and here I am. Still at Thread, still happy. Would I change anything? Yes.

I would get an earlier train.


If you like the sound of Thread, you can check out our jobs page. If you had any questions, feel free to ping me on Twitter, @StephenCookDev.