Alex Aitken

@alexaitken

Onboarding New Engineers

Onboarding is the most important time for establishing company culture and keeping your employees. It’s a time when new joiners form opinions on the team that they’re working with, management, and processes. If you mess this up, you’ll have to work to fix the opinions of your newbies.

I’ve been onboarded now a few times, and I’m starting to form an opinion on how you should go about onboarding new engineers. For starters: Managers — please make sure that the equipment and accounts are all there for day one. It’s not fun using a temporary PC and having to switch a week or two down the line to a different PC.

Also, it’d be nice to have information regarding tasks and duties before or on day one. Sometimes it is defined in your contract, but often I find it vague and showing up on day one with no idea what to do.

Team Bonding

You should, as a team lead or manager, make sure the new joiner can bond with the team as soon as possible. This means welcoming them with a team lunch or something similar. It’s always hard meeting new people in a strange place — so anything you can do to make the transition easier would significantly improve your newbie’s life.

I also think you should check in on your newbie within a week or two. You want to see what they are thinking, how they are finding it, and what you can improve for your future newbies.

Tech overview

Sometimes we come from different architectures or stacks. We won’t know how your system works or what micro-services you use. Maybe we previously used JavaScript and you’re introducing us to TypeScript. This should be prepped for the new joiner or a mentor should be available for any questions.

Don’t treat engineers like children. What I mean by this is, don’t give us those “projects” that mean nothing and are just there to keep us busy until the team is ready to onboard us. That’s not fun. It’s isolating. Give us a real task on day one. We want to work!

HR onboarding

It’s obviously not just the team that needs to onboard people. It’s the HR team (or people team) who can also help with onboarding. This means that visas are sorted (if relocating), that tax numbers, bank accounts, and everything to do with processes in the company are explained.

Please also make sure within the first month (maybe two), that you have set up expectations for the first six months to a year. We want to know the teams KPI, we want to know our individual development plan. We want to know how we can achieve our career goals within your company.

Last words

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of what to do and what not to do. Most of it is common sense. But not every company is the same. Being a “start up” does not excuse a bad onboarding process. If you’re wondering why the churn in your company is so high, maybe you should look into where it’s going wrong from the beginning.

Originally published at www.alexaitken.nz on August 27, 2018.

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