The chances are good that if you are reading this you have hired or have been a part of hiring new members of your team. You deserve a big thumbs up, it’s not an easy task. After reviewing piles of resumes, doing first pass phone interviews, inviting candidates in for face-to-face interviews, and perhaps even a second conversation; you made the offer, they accepted. All set, right?
Three years ago my family adopted our first puppy, Zeke, from the local dog rescue. If you’ve ever adopted an animal you will know it’s not exactly easy. There is a ton of excitement because you get to take this cute little pile of fur home and he is just going to love and protect you. Then reality hits hard when he pees on your carpet and cries through the night for the first week. Now hopefully your new hire doesn’t struggle with these issues, but there is a correlation here (I promise).
See, they have a past with another work-family where they coded a certain way, were expected to deliver tasks in a specific manner, had peers they could trust and confer with, and understood what was required to perform well. All of that has changed now because they are a part of your work-family now.
The simple part was bringing the dog home, but the real work for you is just beginning. If you don’t have a plan for how you are going to train your dog, they will never adapt to fit in your home. Dogs don’t just naturally desire to be potty trained or not bark at the doorbell or heel on a walk. Those things are taught and learned through an organized training program as well as through extensive repetition. Expecting the new members of your team to perform to expectations without training is just setting them up for failure.
Where to start? I’m working on a FREE email course about onboarding new hires to your team and hope to launch it soon (click here to receive that email course), but here is a short list to get started.
- Make introductions. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not excitedly announcing the arrival of your new team member to their new work-family. Typically developers are introverts and leaving intros to happen themselves makes it far too easy to abandon your new hire on an island unto themselves.
- Assign a buddy. The buddy isn’t necessarily a mentor and they don’t have to be your best engineer. It needs to be someone that can be the first point of contact for the 1,000 different questions your new hire will have in their first week. This person should be sociable and able to handle the interruptions with a smile.
- Have their desk ready when they arrive. Nobody likes to show up and feel like they weren’t thought about again since signing on the dotted line. Have a loaded workspace (paper, pens, etc.) and a computer (clean, fresh install) available upon their arrival. A small gift such as a book, welcome note, or something else personal certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
- Prepare a task for them to complete and deploy in their first week. The task shouldn’t be something mission critical and could quite possibly require skills below what you know their capability to be. The idea here is to get them integrated and to provide a path for learning project management systems, coding standards, Git processes, communication methods, and the heaping pile of other stuff they will need training on over the weeks to follow.
I’ll leave it at this for now, but these four things alone will drastically improve your new hire onboarding today and they don’t take a lot of effort. By welcoming people into your work-family in this manner you’re helping them to become integrated quickly and to be productive with the least amount of lead time possible. Everybody wins!