Onboarding new hires is necessary no matter the size of your organization. It gives employees the opportunity to learn about workplace culture, process and technology in a systematic way. In addition to training, the onboarding process is also useful for establishing expectations and working with employees to set goals.
Small businesses in particular can benefit from onboarding. Small teams work like tribes, and onboarding will establish a set of rituals to help new hires to communicate and operate within the team. Without established norms, employees are more prone to conflict or feeling territorial. The more connected people feel to each other, the more engaged they are. Ideally, your onboarding plan should consist of a comprehensive manual, training sessions, timely checkpoints with leadership and a buddy system.
Here at Trakstar, we’re a lean team of 25. Onboarding developers takes a week, and there are five basic components to the program:
- Automation of the dev environment setup; on a developer’s first day, they receive a simple setup script for the entire dev environment
- During configuration of the dev environment, the developer learns about the company’s domain model, history, and business and revenue models
- Once the dev environment is configured and the code is inspected, the developer receives a few days of hands-on training on the company’s technologies and tech processes like code reviews, standards and tech debt guidelines
- Developers are introduced to internal methods for requirements analysis, estimation, release planning and story/requirement slicing
- Developers receive a story/requirement to implement based on their learnings; their assigned buddy helps deploy production
By the end of their first week, our new developers have had the opportunity to work closely with five colleagues and gotten firsthand experience in deploying to production. They’ve not only learned about the technology side of the company but also the business side, and they have a clear idea of job expectations. An added benefit of the onboarding program is that existing employees get a chance to refresh their skills, as they run sessions on a rotating basis.
As you can see, a program for onboarding developers doesn’t have to be especially long or complex. It’s important to have one, though. A good onboarding process is key to improving employee retention and can help employers crystallize the scope of the roles for which they’re hiring. By giving your new hires a thorough understanding of expectations and responsibilities early on, and encouraging bonding with colleagues from day one, you’re setting them–and your company–up for success.