All of the hard work is done after you’ve hired a developer, right? Well, if you want to keep that developer, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” Some components of the developer onboarding process take a bit of time, but you also need to find ways help them settle into their new jobs within their first few days. Here are a few tips for quickly onboarding new developers.
A successful onboarding strategy will equip developers to focus less on what they don’t know about your company and more on writing code. Until then, even the most independent developers will feel lost at times. In order to quickly onboard new developers, you should make it a priority to address their concerns in real time—and meeting face-to-face is the best way to do it. If they’re based out of your headquarters, chat with them in person. If not, check in with them over video conferencing.
While technical challenges are best handled by their engineering managers, take it upon yourself to schedule additional meetings with them to discuss the other facets of their job. After all, you and your HR team are great resources for when they’re feeling unsure about company policies or are struggling to acclimate themselves to your work culture. Give them the space they need to voice any concerns or feedback they have about how their first few days have unfolded.
Developers often like to jump right into their company’s biggest challenges, but even the most tenured programmers need some time to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Steve Faulkner, co-founder of Murfie, says that companies should actually expect some level of failure in any developer’s first few weeks on the job. He adds, “It’s important to be okay with this, communicate it to the dev, and really mean it.”
With that in mind, work with your engineering managers to identify projects that they can complete within their first week. These tasks should require some technical acumen, but save the mission-critical programming for their mentoring sessions. Not only will these initial projects give them the chance to write actual code in their first few days, but it’s also an excellent way to help them adjust to your team’s unique approach to development.
Assigning mentors to your newest developers is an ideal way to ease their transition into their new roles. But many companies turn to their most senior developers to handle mentoring duties, and over time, they’ll bristle at the thought of bringing a new hire up to speed. When your trainers are burnt out, your entire onboarding process can come to a screeching halt.
In an interview with Fog Creek Software, Kate Heddleston suggests that getting your entire team involved actually makes it easier to quickly onboard new developers. She adds, “The best person to teach someone about a particular part of the product is the last person who developed on it.” This approach prevents some members from participating more than others, and gives your less tenured team members opportunities to hone their teaching skills. Most importantly, it gives your recent hires the chance to work with the entire team, rather than just a select few.