How to provide a good onboarding developers process when most developers want to start coding right away?
Finding the best candidates for positions in your organization is a vast and most important part of building an effective team. It is the factor ensuring that new employees are productive and satisfied workers.
When you welcome a new developer to your team, there is a lot to bring them up to speed on, from the codebase to code standards, team workflows to team culture, and more.
By adopting strong onboarding practices, you can easily integrate your new developer as a fully competent, productive, and satisfied employee and team member.
How do you achieve this? In this article, we’ll introduce some best practices for successfully onboarding developers, and show how the onboarding process looks like at Async Labs.
What is the developer onboarding process?
Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with the company and its culture. It provides the new team member with the tools and information needed to achieve productivity.
Small businesses, in particular, benefit the most from onboarding. Thanks to an established set of rituals and norms, it helps new employees communicate and act within the team. The more people feel connected to each other, the more engaged they are.
Although onboarding has a powerful impact on the quality of employee integration, statistics show that onboarding is often not given enough importance. Studies show that organizations with an intense onboarding process improve productivity by over 70% and new employee retention by 82%.
Only 12% of employees strongly agree they had quality onboarding during employment, while 88% of new employees don’t believe their organization does an excellent onboarding process.
Employee surveys like these are a great indicator of what you could be doing better and how to make the onboarding process more successful.
A successful onboarding process can help employers crystallize the scope of the roles for which they’re hiring and is essential to improving employee retention.
By giving your new employees a thorough understanding of expectations and responsibilities from day one and encouraging bonding with colleagues, you’re setting them and your company up for success.
To optimize the onboarding developers process, ask yourself a series of simple questions before the first day of the onboarding:
- What does my developer need before starting?
- What information, hardware, software, etc., do I need to provide before day 1?
- How long does onboarding take?
- What impression do I want the new employees to get at the end of the first day?
- How to set goals for new employees?
- What do employees need to know about the company culture and work environment?
- How to avoid the most frequent mistakes during the onboarding process? For example, it can be lack of organization and communication, lack of pre-boarding process, unclear job expectations, etc.
If you can answer and address these questions in your onboarding procedure, you’re on your way to successfully integrating a new team member.
First day of onboarding developers
The two main goals of the first day should be to set expectations and introduce goals. Employees must have crystal clear ideas about what their jobs and responsibilities are. Social interaction is crucial, and new employees need to know the job and meet their new co-workers.
9 ways to nail a new developer’s first day
Welcoming new employees cannot only reduce their stress but can lead to them being more productive.
First impressions are the most important, so here are the nine ways to provide an effective onboarding developers process and make the first day at work a success – for both you and your new developer.
- Prepare the space for the new employee. Provide your new hire with a clean, organized place to work from the start and show them where they can find more supplies.
- Give a tour of the office. Show your new employee where people lunch together, show them a room where they can go when they need more focus or chill. This will help them adapt to their new environment immediately.
- Introduce the developer to everyone in the team and departments (including remote members) and company resources (tech support or human resources)
- Introduce the developer to daily meetings or scrums and explain how to participate.
- Assign the mentor. The new employees must know who to ask questions, who is their mentor, to whom they are directly responsible for the tasks and work in general.
- Give a welcome gift. We all love gifts. Sometimes, even a small but thoughtful gift is enough to brighten our day. It can be a company swag like t-shirts, water bottles, coffee mugs, and office equipment like pens, notebooks, etc.
- Give them something to do. Give your new employee small tasks to get moving on right away, and continue with a light workload the first week, so they can feel like they accomplished something.
- Be enthusiastic and show your new employee that you’re looking forward to working with them.
- Be patient, friendly, and available. The first few days are usually full of information and can result in mistakes. It is essential to take some time to support new employees, help them with all questions and concerns, and show them that you’ve got their back.
On the second day, and the next few weeks, the person can start working on the project’s setup and efficiently study the code or fix minor things.
It is essential to provide the new employee with all the necessary equipment and tools before they arrive. For example, tools and solutions we use at Async Labs include Jira, TeamWork, Git flow, code review rules, linting rules, etc.
During the onboarding process, the new developer also gets support and continuous consulting from the mentor. Other colleagues are also always available and ready to show and explain how things work.
Bonus tip for successful onboarding developers process: Be careful not to overwhelm new employees with too much information.
Bonus tips for mentors
- Provide education or a mentor in the workplace
- Get started early with planning, documentation, and code reviews
- Don’t solve their problems — help them figure it out by themselves
- Give and receive feedback
- Help them learn from their mistakes
- Do regular pair coding exercises
- Encourage independent learning with recommended reading
What does the onboarding developers process look like at Async Labs?
At Async, we have come up with a process that is working great for us so far. It is based on having several days of introduction “classes”, all revolving around getting to know our process and team.
We start with an introduction to the whole team and the tour around the company office. After a cup of coffee or some tea, new developers get their welcome pack and their equipment. Also, at this point, they find out who is their official mentor.
Following that easy intro to the company culture and the kitchen, we have a set of pre-scheduled educations which revolve around development practices, company history, and team culture.
Here’s a list of our educations and the person responsible for the education:
- Company history w/ CEO, COO
- Development department structure and rules w/ Head of Dev
- Domain-Driven Design @ Async w/ Head of Dev
- Clocking, time logging, and task organization w/ Project Manager
- Git flow @ Async w/ any developer
- Life @ Async w/ any team member
All of these are usually scheduled during the first four days and take up more than half of the working day, so our new developers usually don’t get any tasks for the first week.
After that, they shadow their mentor or a fellow colleague for a day or two so that they can see how it all works on a daily basis.
Finally, we introduce them to their tasks which are, at starters, some repeatable tasks so that they can apply all of the things they’ve learned in the previous week.
At one point, after a couple of weeks, we ask for feedback about the onboarding process, and we adapt accordingly.
The developer onboarding process with best onboarding practices
Here are some good practices of paramount importance when onboarding new developers:
Most developers want to start coding right away and don’t want to spend their first day in the office collecting paperwork and signing documents.
To provide new team members with the information they need to do their jobs effectively, you should prepare legal documentation on time, at least a few days before a new software engineer arrives at the workplace.
- user guides of commonly used tools
- organizational charts
- common bugs and how to solve them
- workplace setup, software tutorials
- anything that requires step-by-step instructions
- organizational charts and contact lists
If you have some extra time, you can even write a welcome ebook or a tutorial series.
Focus on human interaction. Make your new developers feel welcomed, included, supported, and respected, to grow and thrive.
Give yourself and your new employees some time and follow the communication flow. You don’t have to pile everything on all at once, so don’t overwhelm them with information.
In addition to daily team meetings, you should organize one-on-one meetings to check in on new team members. This is an excellent way to let your new employees know how they are doing and provide any feedback or suggestions for improvement, but also for you to listen to them and encourage them to share their struggles and give honest feedback.
Help the developer learn about the company culture. What does it mean? Company culture is the “personality” of your company, your goals, values, mission, vision, attitudes, and practices.
Encouraging spontaneity, creativity, and connections between a team with team-building activities are a great way to help your new developer feel at home on your team.
If you’re interested in how hack days work, check out how we survived our first hackathon and what our team developed.
You should set clear benchmarks for new developers from day one and introduce them to a team code repository on GitHub. Ensure everyone has access to each other’s tasks and progress, and encourage a new hire to explore colleagues’ activities to understand the team’s workflow better.
Quality over quantity of code and time spent on doing tasks. Avoid controlling and micromanaging what a developer is doing unless the work quality starts lacking.
If the value is delivered, you shouldn’t be concerned with the process too much. Also, if you have to criticize new members’ work, be sure to explain the criteria.
Integrating remote developers
All of the things previously mentioned are easy to do when you are in person with the new developer. Onboarding remote developers require a couple of small changes in the process, but the overall idea is pretty much the same.
Make sure that you are available as a mentor to the new developer. Using an easy-to-connect communication channel like Slack with Huddles or Discord makes this really easy to implement.
It will be a little harder to transfer the team culture if your team is primarily offline. One of the great solutions for that is to have an open channel from the dev room.
You can set up a laptop in the middle of the room and connect it to the previously mentioned channel. That way, remote people can connect and “be” with the team during the day.
Also, make sure that their mentor checks upon them more often than usual during the first couple of weeks and be prepared for a lot of questions and short calls. :))
It is unrealistic to expect perfect performance from a new developer in the first few weeks. To become fully competent in their role, the average employee takes upwards of six months.
This article doesn’t necessarily represent a template to be followed. Instead, use it as a formula and adjust it for your team and specific project.
Happy onboarding journey! Make it one to remember!