Starting any new job is a risk. It’s exciting to meet new people and take on different responsibilities, but the process can also be intimidating. You’re not sure how you’re going to fit in and whether you’ll be able to prove yourself. New software developers might think about these things when they join your team. Making them feel comfortable, supported, and effective is part of your job as their manager or team lead.
Setting up the newest group members for success requires good communication, collaboration, planning, and organization. But effectively mentoring new team members and laying the groundwork for high-quality performance also calls for a personal touch. You’ve got to get to know your employees as people and find out what their strengths and passions are. Here’s how you can help new software developers get off to a winning start.
Ensure Collaboration Occurs Within the Whole Team
Yes, developing applications does involve some solo work. However, team members need to see how what they do contributes to the group’s success. New software developers especially want to grasp how their skills mesh with their peers’ abilities. They must also get to know who they’re collaborating with and how team and culture dynamics work.
Some might dive in head first, while others take more time to observe. But whether the entire team is remote, hybrid, or onsite, consistent collaboration on projects is how things get done. You don’t want new developers feeling isolated and unsure of how to proceed on assignments.
According to Shortcut, using the collaborative tools within project management software ensures communication is centralized. These tools also enable team members to come together to brainstorm, solve problems, or help each other overcome roadblocks. Encourage all employees to lean on collaborative software tools as the place for discussions and knowledge sharing. Setting this expectation and practicing it will help prevent information silos and mixed messages.
Develop and Execute an Onboarding Plan
A poor onboarding experience often leads to lackluster results for new employees. It can prompt resignations, cause confusion and frustration, and impede successful performance. According to Gallup, new hires usually need at least a year on the job to acclimate and start performing at their full potential. However, the average onboarding program only extends through the first 90 days. And only 12% of workers surveyed by Gallup thought their companies had effective onboarding programs.
It’s simply not enough to take new developers on an office tour and introduce them to their colleagues. While these things are part of an onboarding program, new hires shouldn’t be left to sink or swim so soon. This is where managers should take an active role and enlist the help of a complete onboarding team. The team can include new hire mentors, key stakeholders in the company, and human resources staff.
Establishing internal relationships and support networks helps new software developers feel connected to the culture and company. Recent hires should also know what the expectations are for their first year. Let them contribute to the performance and learning standards you lay out. Make it a two-way discussion, allowing them to express what skills they’d like to use and develop. Then give them the resources to take steps toward their goals.
Don’t Underwhelm New Team Members
Delegating tasks and assignments to new hires can be a tricky business. You’re not 100% sure where they’re going to shine or what they’re going to struggle with. New team members are also going to have lots of questions in the beginning. While asking questions is essential to learning, they’re also interruptions that take time from you and other team members.
While it might seem easier to give recent hires busywork or easy tasks to keep those questions to a minimum, resist the impulse. You run the risk of underwhelming your newest team members and contributing to feelings of uselessness. Make a conscious effort to assign meaningful but manageable tasks. Otherwise, you might end up giving new software developers too little to work on.
And that isn’t good for their morale — after all, they didn’t join the team to just sit on the sidelines. While newbies might not get the top projects from the get-go, try to match their passions with available work. Of course they won’t be leading the development of the most critical parts of a project right away. But that doesn’t mean they can’t work alongside top performers and contribute their ideas.
Check In, But Not Too Often
New software developers require time and space to get their feet wet. They do need you and other key stakeholders to be there to support their efforts. However, hovering over new hires’ shoulders or constantly checking in can feel oppressive. They might sense that you don’t trust their abilities or judgment. New developers could also get the idea that you want to control every outcome, deliverable, and detail.
Micromanagement can stifle productivity and creativity because employees wonder why they’re even there. Few people want to work for someone who’s going to make all the decisions and go against everyone else’s ideas. Pretty soon, they’ll lose motivation and stop contributing, and that’s not something you want.
However, that doesn’t mean you should be completely hands-off either. Striking a balance between being overbearing and too distant is challenging for many managers. But you can get there by tailoring your management style to your new software developers’ needs. Some will want more hand-holding and one-on-one time than others. Find out what makes each new hire tick and how many check-ins are ideal for them. Come up with a plan together and commit to it.
Developing the Developer
New employees face a lot of uncertainty. They’re entering a new environment with often unknown dynamics and expectations. Brand-new hires are eager to get off on the right foot and make significant contributions to the team. As their manager, you can help set new developers up for success through group collaboration, comprehensive onboarding, and balanced support.