This is the third article in a three-part series about technical recruiting.
This article describes ways you can more efficiently integrate a new hire into your organization during their first five days on the job.
740 words, reading time 3.5 minutes.
Your offer was accepted and your new employee is starting on your team. How do you make this person effective quickly? And how do you make her feel like she’s a member of the team?
Before your employee arrives, complete any administrative tasks that can be done in advance. For example, if you issue laptops, make sure the machine is ready with all necessary access permissions in place. Create the company email account and any other standard setup entries. Add the new employee to the appropriate mailing lists so that information flows from the first day. And although this seems obvious, make sure there’s a desk and chair available. Getting all of this right sends the message that your organization is competent, efficient, and effective.
Pair all new employees with an experienced “buddy”. The buddy can provide guidance, answer questions, help the new person navigate the organization, and understand the culture. Have the buddy organize lunch or drinks (on the company, of course) to introduce the new team member.
Join the Team
If yours is an agile/scrum shop, your new employee will be joining an established team. The daily standup becomes the primary point of contact for a new arrival — and bonding with a team is a good predictor of employee satisfaction and tenure.
Make sure that all new hires are assigned to a team immediately — even if this is a contingent or temporary assignment. Some organizations, for example, rotate a new employee through several teams over the first few months, typically to give a broader exposure to the systems, products and organization. This can work well as long as expectations are clearly laid out at the beginning.
The most effective way to keep a team member connected and motivated, is regular and open communication. And the best way to do that is a regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting between employee and manager. Make sure that the first of these one-on-ones occur in the first week, and that a regular schedule is set up and maintained.
I’ve found that the least effective format for these meetings is the standard across-the-desk setup. Try different ideas for these: go for a walk together, go out for a coffee, or engage in a shared activity.
A good software developer wants to be productive as soon as possible. It’s your job to make this fast and friction-free. The goal is to enable a first code check-in, with its associated build-and-test process, in the first five days.
In order to do this, your new employee will need a development environment. If setting this up takes more than an hour or two, you have an opportunity to focus on this to reduce this time. Same with the build/test cycle. If a coder can’t get quick feedback on a code change, the entire development process becomes sclerotic.
In order to facilitate a check-in in the first few days, you might have a standard exercise for all new coders. Or perhaps you have a list of small bugs to be fixed. In either case, the real goal is to get your new team member in a position to contribute quickly. Having a standard process for development environment setup and code check-in also reduces the load on the team, who would otherwise have to pick up the work of training up the new arrival.
Get Code to Production
It is a boost to a developer’s ego and confidence to get code into production. This is, after all, what the job is all about. If your organization’s release cycle supports it, try to get a new employee’s code into production in the first week. Granted, this goal only makes sense for shops with rapid or continuous delivery strategies. But this could be another argument for moving toward rapid deployment, if you are not currently engaged in this practice.
Technology Boot Camps
If you are growing rapidly, and so hiring at the same rate, you may have new employees arriving constantly. One efficient way to get new people up to speed is a technology boot camp. This is typically a one-day session that covers a range of topics, and is a great way to accomplish many of the suggestions above. Your agenda might include:
- Background on the business: history, customer stories, business model, product offering, etc.
- Guests from other departments: in your company, what does business development do? Sales? Finance? Lay out the company organization, and provide a face and contact to these other (sometimes mysterious) groups.
- Technology overview: architecture, code base structure, test framework, etc.
- Development environment setup.
- Exercise the change-build-test-check-in cycle.
When done well, at the end of this session, a new employee will have all the background and knowledge needed to fully participate and contribute.
At the end of the first week, your new team member understands the business, feels like a member of a team, and has contributed to the project. Not a bad start!
For More Information
See the other articles in the three-part Hiring series:
About the Author
In a career spanning 20+ years of technology leadership, Richard has served in diverse roles ranging from VP of engineering of a startup to CTO of a publicly-traded company. Most recently, in six years at LendingClub he grew an agile software development organization from 10 to over 400 contributors while delivering a platform that transformed the credit marketplace.
Richard has also delivered fintech, B2B, and B2C solutions that included legacy re-architecting, moving to services, and migration to the cloud. Technologies experience range from a cloud-based call center, one of the first CRM products, and other on-prem, SaaS and web service solutions.