how to ensure a smooth and effective process of onboarding new employees

how to ensure a smooth and effective process of onboarding new employees

Hello everybody! My name is Nastya, I am a frontend developer from the League of Stavok.

In this article, I want to share the onboarding and onboarding process for new developers at our company.

The idea of ​​the article was born after I went through the onboarding myself.

During the entire time in development, I managed to be on both sides of the barricades: being a newcomer who just joined the team, and being a person who participates in the onboarding process myself. I have a clear understanding of what it takes for a person to successfully adapt to the company and feel comfortable in the long term.

Before we begin, remember how your onboarding went?

Has it ever happened that you didn’t know who to turn to on your first day at work?
Was it the case that you had access most of the time?
Was it the case that you were left to yourself and were told “look at the code, figure it out for now, if there are questions – write.”
Or on the contrary, you were immediately thrown to close combat missions?
Or were you just bored the whole time because no one cared about you?

If you recognized yourself in one of the questions, then this article will definitely be useful. I will share the main approaches of our company that will help you to improve current processes, and if they are just forming, to introduce new ones at the start.

In the adaptation of a new employee, 2 key stages can be distinguished: adaptation and on-boarding, which follows from it.

The main goals of adaptation: introduce the employee to the corporate culture and values.

Main goals of onboarding: dive into workflows and get started more efficiently.

This stage begins when the new employee accepts the offer.

The recruitment manager and the adaptation manager play a key role here.

The main goal of the hiring manager is to prepare and agree the necessary hiring documents, to inform the team and the hiring manager about the timing of the new person’s exit so that they can prepare in advance.

Here we adhere to the principle of transparency:

Candidate is informed about all the stages that await him in the hiring process and understands the deadlines.
Manager is constantly in touch, in case of any difficulties, he necessarily informs the candidate about all changes and processes.

After registration, the new employee goes to the adaptation manager.

Its main goal is to introduce the company’s corporate culture and values, adopted approaches to problem solving, and features of interaction with the team.

In fact, the onboarding manager’s work begins even earlier, but one of the key steps is to prepare the work environment.

Working environment means:

  • Work equipment

  • Access to mail

  • Access to the corporate portal

  • Technical applications

Getting Started:

The adaptation manager makes an appointment for the newcomer, introduces him to the future workplace and colleagues, conducts a tour of the office and issues a welcome pack. Also, the manager helps to set up the working environment, contact the team and the manager, who, in turn, introduces the newcomer to the team and discusses the goals and tasks for the first months of work.

To immerse yourself in the most important processes, we have a Welcome presentation on the corporate portal. It contains information about the values ​​and principles of the company, important organizational issues (when the salary arrives, lunch, work schedule, important contacts for communication). In order to make it easier for a newcomer to understand, the adaptation manager holds a welcome meeting several times a month, where he explains the main points of the presentation and answers the questions of new employees.

During the entire period of adaptation, the adaptation manager is in contact, his task is to make sure that the newcomer has connected with the team, he understands the goals, and he knows with whom his further interaction will be. If any of the processes are violated, the manager promptly takes measures.

After this stage, the new employee is ready for onboarding — involvement in the work process and receiving practical tasks.

It is important to note that the adaptation manager maintains contact with the new employee during the entire trial period, after a week, a month, or 3 months, he calls the newcomer, collects feedback and promptly answers the questions that arise.

At this stage, the mentor plays a key role.

What is he doing?

The mentor’s task is not only to always be next to the mentee and support him, but also to demonstrate the correct approach to work by his own example.

We distinguish 5 main stages of training, which can be described as follows:

“I’ll tell, and you listen”
“I’ll show, and you look”
“Let’s do it together”
“Do it yourself, and I’ll tell you”
“Do it yourself and tell us what you did”

Each stage involves collecting feedback from the newcomer.

Interaction between the mentor and the new employee takes place in the format of calls and text messages. Calls are scheduled every 2 days, and written communication is scheduled daily.

During the first meeting, the mentor helps to gain access and deploy projects. To make it easier to navigate, we immediately send a checklist with all links and instructions. Next, the mentor briefly explains the purpose of each service.

After the accesses are obtained, the projects are deployed, you can proceed to a more detailed dive.

We start from the base, namely, from the principles we follow when writing code. As the project develops, the code base increases, as does the number of services and important information. It is impossible to keep it all in your head.

Documentation helps us here, it is maintained in Confluence, actively supported and updated in a timely manner by the entire team:

  • How to deploy a project

  • Project architecture

  • Used technologies

  • Code style

  • Git flow (how to make commits, pull/merge ads)

  • Release process (how to move tasks in jira, what to do with completed tasks)

  • Links to test benches and how to get access

  • How is the code review

  • Deployment process

  • Answers to frequently asked questions

  • How to evaluate tasks (on specific examples)

I understand the feelings of all developers, because there is not always the time and desire to support documentation, but believe me, it will pay for itself many times over and save you a lot of time!

Immersion in projects.

Leaving a newbie alone with the code is not effective at all. Abstract examples and tasks do not contribute to immersion in the project, but on the contrary can be intimidating.

We follow the general to private principle here.

The dive begins with more general topics, such as project architecture. Why is she like that? What problems does it solve? What was she like before and why did she become like that? Using example 1, we analyze the essence, then we dive into narrower modules. How the state-manager is arranged, routing, work with types, styles.

We give information gradually, not all at one meeting. For better assimilation, you can offer a beginner a simple task, for example, make a new page by analogy.

The fact is that when an experienced person talks about how it all works, it seems that everything is clear. In practice, due to the large volume of information, this is quickly forgotten, and then, when starting tasks, the beginner panics – nothing is clear. Practice is very important.

Let’s start the tasks

During the onboarding period, we do not give urgent and important tasks to a new employee. He still does not have enough experience to fully close them, and unnecessary stress is useless.

We have our own backlog of tasks. There are simple ones: bugs, refactoring, editing the layout, there are also more complex ones: improve performance, refactor a large component, do a redesign.

An important rule for such tasks is that they are well described, include screenshots, links to documentation, and expected results.

As a rule, we start with simple tasks, gradually increasing the complexity.

It is important to remember that you should not leave the novice face to face with the task. Return to it every N hours, ask what went well, and what difficulties arose, conduct a code review. There is no need to give ready-made solutions, direct!

Thus, during the entire onboarding period, the developer will go the whole way: from writing the code to receiving feedback from colleagues for a code review.

Give and ask for feedback

This stage is important for all participants of adaptation and onboarding.

We adhere to the principle: We improve established practices and processes, review them and change them to more effective ones

Share feedback about a colleague’s work, note what was good and where it should be improved. And the employee will share feedback about work in the company and feelings: what he did not like about the processes, what moments were not clear, and what, on the contrary, was useful and he really liked.

Do not depersonalize the interaction

As I already wrote earlier, I was both in the role of a novice and in the role of a mentor. Throughout my experience at other companies, onboarding was unstructured. Usually, everything boiled down to the fact that I was shown the coffee area, offered a liver and told briefly about the company. There was no full immersion in the team, and I had to adapt independently at each new workplace.

Once I myself had to adapt newcomers. Neither I nor the team knew how to do it right, so we did what we could.

We, like all developers, were incredibly busy: tasks, deadlines, and new people. We made the mistakes I described above: we did not devote enough time to study, left everything to its own devices, “threw” a person into a whirlwind of tasks and went about our business.

It is not difficult to guess that people felt uncomfortable. After the analysis, we received the following feedback:

  1. People did not feel part of the ship. They were not given time, they did not understand what role they play in the team and whether they are needed in it.

  2. Newcomers felt lonely. There was a feeling of discomfort and a feeling that they were imposing their questions.

  3. They did not understand why they came to work. Why and for whom do they perform tasks?

  4. People have developed impostor syndrome. Due to lack of training, people did not understand how to solve problems.

  5. Disappointment and a sense of wasted time.

The League team and I analyzed previous experience, worked on mistakes and made an important conclusion: People are more important than processes and tools. Therefore, adaptation and onboarding in the League of Stavok is seamless and efficient. We analyze the mistakes of others, learn from them and always try to improve processes.

During communication, be interested in colleagues: past experience, hobbies, talents. For your part, share the story of how you came to the company and what path you took, what inspires and motivates you the most. Tell me what career opportunities there are and how you can prove yourself. Immerse yourself in team traditions, local jokes and stories. When setting tasks, reveal the business value: what problem it solves, what it gives to the user and the team.

I hope this article will help you avoid mistakes and make adaptation effective and memorable. And remember, the best result is achieved only in a coordinated team, spare no effort and time and you will assemble a team that is ready to conquer any peak!

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