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👋 Onboarding software developers

Finally, it’s the start day! How you welcome and onboard your new hire can make a big difference to their performance, not to mention how excited they are about remaining with your company.

Hiring developers is difficult: don’t lose sight of retaining your hard-won team members. Most developers will easily be able to move on to a new opportunity if they are met with a lacklustre onboarding experience.

Here are some steps to an epic onboarding process. Bonus: you can do all of these steps remotely!

Make your new joiner feel welcome and connected

  • Send a welcome gift: There’s nothing like receiving a gift just for you. You can do the same for new joiners with a welcome pack that includes essentials to make them feel welcome.
  • Be intentional about creating connection: Nominate an onboarding buddy who will help answer questions, set the new joiner up, and generally be a ‘friendly face’ around the virtual office. In fact, you can have separate onboarding buddies for the role, and for your company culture. Read more about our onboarding buddy system here.
  • Share key milestones: Celebrate important milestones your new joiner has reached, such as their 1 month check-in, or their first meaningful contribution.
  • Invite them to social channels: Have them join a social club at the company (e.g. online gaming club, board game club, book club, meditation circle).
  • Have agendaless meetings: Agendaless meetings are a great way to get the team to check in with each other and connect outside of work-related things.

Help your new joiner feel confident in their role

  • Be available as a team: Ensure the team has indicated their availability in their calendars, in case your new joiner needs help or would just like to chat.
  • Give context: Spend time explaining how your team impacts the business and where they fit into this.
  • Set clear goals: Explain all the projects they’re on, who they’ll work with, and the goals they’ll work towards in the first few months.
  • Onboarding checklists: Include what they can complete to have an awesome, productive day. Also add social tasks like meeting team members in other parts of the business!
  • Have an internal knowledge base: Make sure your new joiner can easily find important onboarding material such as culture documents, team videos, ‘How to docs’, etc.
  • Schedule regular check-ins: For the first three months, make sure you’ve set up weekly 1:1 check-ins with your new joiner.
  • Avoid micromanaging: Frequent check-ins can also feel like being micromanaged. Make it clear that you’re still figuring out a good cadence for check-ins and encourage their feedback.
More resources
Pro tip

When onboarding software developers, it’s useful to remind them of the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. This boils down to the following: Since they are going through a massive change, their emotional state and performance will go through a cycle – that’s normal!

Assessing how onboarding is going

If you’re an engineering manager, here are some useful questions to ask yourself to evaluate if onboarding is progressing well — and identify where to apply extra effort:

Technical

  • Has the new joiner been able to contribute to the codebase?
  • Have they been able to ship changes in addition to the initial onboarding tasks?
  • Have they been able to pair with other teammates to ship features?
  • Have they been able to ship code individually?

Processes

  • Have they been able to contribute their thoughts and opinions?
  • Are they comfortable with the squad’s cadence? (identify areas of improvement)

Social / Cultural

  • Has the new joiner been spending time with the various members of the team?
  • Are they getting along with the team?
  • Have they been able to attend team events?

Inclusion

  • Are they able to receive and process feedback while seeing the benefits of it?
  • Is the team equipped to give good feedback?
  • Are they able to articulate and share with you their feelings about their new role?
  • Are they feeling positive about the team?
  • Are they positive about the direction they’re heading?
  • Are they excited for the future?
  • Does the new joiner and the team know something about each other outside of the work context?
  • Team event. Has the team taken some time to have a laugh with the new joiner?
  • Have they been able to celebrate successes?
  • Have they used their skills they are proud of to contribute meaningfully, seen an impact and made it public (e.g. demo’d a solution to the team)?
  • Are they making net-positive contributions to the work?

Lastly, offering good mentorship to your new joiners is super important, and is a crucial aspect to maintaining developers even long after they’ve completed the onboarding process.

More resources

Read more on the steps to set up a sustainable mentoring programme here.