How to onboard new teammates
We have all experienced the awkward feeling of the first day at a new job where you don’t know the basics and feel unproductive. Your number one job as a buddy is to make your new teammate feel at home, answer their questions, and help them feel settled.
Some of this will be taken care of by your HR department who should cover off the basics of how you get paid, who’s who and what the company values are. After that, it’s over to you and the team to communicate the culture, purpose, and tooling that will allow them to hit the ground running.
There should be no expectations to get started right away, in fact, there should be no expectations at all in the first two weeks. This is the time to ease your new teammate into the team so the transition into project work will be seamless.
Why are you here?
Announce Their Arrival
Make an announcement on your team Slack channel BEFORE they arrive to not only introduce your new teammate but also what it is they will be doing. Don’t force your new hire to repeat over and over what they do with each new person they meet.
Have a Confluence page or slide deck ready with the team's purpose and why you do what you do, what problems you are trying to solve, and who your specific stakeholders are. Data Teams are service providers so it’s important to make this clear from Day One.
How does your team know they are doing a good job and contributing to the company? Are you be measured on tickets closed, an NPS score, or something else? Make it clear how the team fits into the company as a whole and how you know you are making a difference.
Who do you work with?
Assign a Buddy
One person should be your new teammate's buddy and walk them through the basics, answer any questions, and make sure they have what they need. Don’t assign this to ‘everyone and no one’ or leave it up to the person sitting beside them to figure it out.
Take a Tour
This is a great opportunity to point out where everything they need is and introduce them to folks you bump into along the way. Point out things like All-Hands meeting spaces, where to get coffee, and the things that make your office unique.
Meet and Greets
Onboarding processes that require your new teammate to meet with the team one-on-one for weeks are tedious for everyone. Consider doing this in groups and over lunch rather than endless 30-minute catch-ups one-on-one. Also, make sure you schedule a time to meet the last person who went through this process.
Catch-ups with Context
Rather than simply throwing time in people's calendars to ‘catch up’ give some context and guidance on what to cover. Will they be working together? Are they a key stakeholder? Give some background and why they need to meet to make the time valuable.
How does work get done?
Process and Workflows
Are your analysts picking up the next ticket off the pile or guiding decision making proactively? This sets the tone for how they work with other teams and is important to establish early on.
Processes should never live in someone’s head. Make sure you have everything your new teammate will do documented, up to date, and covering off the good and the gotchas.
This is a great opportunity to work together and write it as they learn with you.
Everyone comes into a new role with their way of doing things. If there is an expectation on how code should look, what dashboards should achieve, and how peer reviews should go, have it written down.
Who owns what?
Is your team the administrator of the tools you use? If not who should you go to when things go wrong or need to be set up? Making it clear who owns your tools makes it easier to fix problems when they pop up.
Can I have it?
Compile a list of links or document the answers to all those questions you don’t think about anymore, but a new teammate has. Can I have plants? Is it ok to have my online shopping sent to the reception? Can I bring a friend to Friday drinks?
Onboarding doesn’t just stop after the first week or the first month. After the first two weeks catch up with your new Teammate to make sure they have everything they need, get their feedback, and maybe tweak the process for next time.
- Did you feel the onboarding process covered everything you needed to get started?
- Could anything be presented better or in a different order?
- Is there enough documentation to cover everything?
A successful onboarding programme sends the message that your new Teammate is valued and that the team is organised and has a plan to contribute to their success. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression so make it a good one!