November 27th, 2019

How to Help New Team Members Get Along With Regulars

A practical guide on how entrepreneurs should handle their new workers. See what are the best practices of integrating rookies and ensuring their performance right from the get-go.
Whether you start a new project or decide to reinforce an ongoing one, getting a new employee is an inevitable affair and should be done widely.
The way you introduce a worker is crucial, likewise, in many life situations, the first impression plays a huge role in how they perceive their job further on.

If we talk about a dedicated team, this becomes even more important as the constant staff flow becomes an integral part of the whole process. Much like in a school class, smoothly integrating a new member should rely on both parties, and here's how you could do that in a sleek fashion.

Papers

First of all, formal info is a must. Whether it's boring or not, each one of the employees needs to go through this chore so that you're sure they're all aware of the official duties. Technologies and procedures should be the first documents that the worker see—you don't want that person to ask basic questions every 5 minutes.

Don't make a new worker look clueless. Even if he/she isn't willing to go through all these documents, send it in a paper or in a digital form that is always available and addresses basic questions that may occur. It's also your duty to make these guides short and simple, but at the same time informative enough. Also, don't hesitate to use images or simple graphs—it encourages readers to grasp the info fast and feel like they're using their time efficiently.

Set expectations

An even more crucial factor is setting clear expectations. It's common case when a worker finds himself in a weird situation when the job is done but the feedback is far from the best. That's probably because the goals weren't made fair—sometimes a seasoned developer can get a "carte blanche" with a "you know what to do" farewell. This approach rarely pays off, so make sure you tell what should be achieved and how it could be measured.

If you decided to hire someone, then you surely know that a dev could bring value to your project. Don't mind sharing your views on how a worker could improve the product and which exact areas are within responsibility. Although we're advocating for a planned economy, KPI is still a great way to realistically display your expectations and shows the end goal for a new worker.

Introduce them to new systems

Every company works within its own ecosystem: it can be bug-tracking software, communication tools, frameworks, etc. Don't expect everyone to know how these systems work, at least give newcomers time to be consulted on your practices and to get used to them. Having a sysadmin is a great asset: this worker can grant instant access and guide through every piece of software that your company uses.

Don't be upset if a potential worker doesn't know some of the technologies—people in IT are great at learning and can grasp new software in a matter of days. They will also appreciate your trust and try their best to seize the unknown.
JavaScript developers salary by company size
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Share the team rules

The premise is similar to the previous segment—people have different experiences and it varies based on each workplace. A team environment is a subtle factor that should integrate new members rather than be modified by them. Whether it's a probation period or a full-on working unit, try to explain common behavior practices of a new team. It's not about dress code, lunchtime, or level of loudness; I mean telling who is responsible for managing projects, scheduling principles, meeting and reporting rules.

On the other hand, try not to push it to the extreme: if a new worker isn't used to working long past overtime, making him/her do it may have a positive effect in the short-term, but won't be great overall. Instead, make a balanced approach of involving the new workers to your corporate practices little by little so they see it as a step to moving forward.

Get them involved ASAP

Don't be scared to introduce a new member to the core working process. Much like in professional sports, engaging a newbie out of the frying pan amplifies their learning process by a ton, especially if that dev used to work in a fast-paced scenario. Right from the get-go, an employee will start adopting a new technology stack and learn from the existing corporate practices given that there are a few folks in-the-know around.

It's the best way to make a newbie transform into a full unit and to show your trust—many view this as a crucial asset to establishing an effective partnership. Plus, when paying a full salary, don't expect a worker to go through an internship, rather deliver value to your product. So try to infuse a new worker with a small dose of responsibility, he/she also benefits from getting confidence instead of passing the task to someone who is more experienced.

Share thoughts with each other

Getting feedback offers great value for both parties involved. Not only you get a sharp perspective of what could be improved - a fresh glance is known for admitting things that are hidden for long-lasting employees, but it also lets you know how to make a freshly hired member a happy cog in your engine.

If you want to receive the biggest value, try to generate questions so they don't imply certain answers—this will keep feedback honest. More so, encourage them to ask questions themselves, a new employee should always have lots of questions—that is the best indication that he or she is interested in a job position.

Another approach is to provide workers will all the necessary tools to find information on their own. This method is known for encouraging self-sufficiency and will be best when the management team isn't large, and every member is pretty much on the same page regarding responsibility.

Get them to side activities

Downtime was made for recreation purposes but it can also serve as a glue for team building. It's an okay practice if you start inviting a rookie to have lunch with colleagues - sharing a meal is an honor and is great for getting to know each other since the tribal times. Same for newlyweds who have a mandatory feast so that future relatives will become familiar with each other.

Informal lunch is the best for building trust within the team; the same people will get together to solve projects' goals. Regardless of technology, products are made by a group of people, and it's a good sign if they have bonds and can relate to each other. They feel comfortable when knowing there's someone to watch their back or ask for advice, the human factor is no less important than the technological one.

The same rule can be applied to any side activities—be sure to invite rookies to hikes, corporate events, or celebrating the milestones/dates of more seasoned workers as it gives the sense of belonging and helps them integrate into a team.

Conclusion

Despite the importance of getting rookies to informal duties, remember to provide them with all the official papers—knowing who's in charge of their project or office facilities will eliminate all the confusion as well as setting the expectations right from the get-go. Also, feel free to put the new devs up front, as your trust is a key asset to embolden them for making strides at a faster rate. Side activities also play a huge role in how your newbies will perform—despite the popular image of nerdy programmers, they greatly benefit from social interactions varying from sharing food to going outdoors occasionally.

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