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Developer Onboarding: 8 Best Practices (2024)

Items in the swag box Frogslayer new hires receive on their first day.

In software development, project success is dependent on the expertise, adaptability, and productivity of its team members. But, prior to those individuals being introduced to projects, they’re introduced to your organization as a new hire.

Onboarding software developers into your company goes beyond administration; it’s a strategic process that shapes how new hires will align with the firm’s core values, project methodologies, and culture. Setting clear standards, expectations, and procedures is key to integrating developers into your teams seamlessly.

Below, we’ll go over 8 best practices for onboarding software developers. You’ll learn how to design an efficient and effective onboarding program that makes your new hires’ first day both impactful and enjoyable.

1. Make It Personal

Before a person’s first day, we collect information such as their shirt size, favorite restaurants, and equipment preferences, all so we can custom-tailor their experience.

On their first day during onboarding, they receive a swag box including a Frogslayer cap, t-shirts, fun socks, desk supplies, and books recommended by their managers. We also introduce them to their respective teams and schedule time to take them to lunch – allowing them to get to know each other on a more personal level.

2. Immerse Them into the Culture

While it would be easy, it’s not enough to just show new hires the company mission statement. A truly impactful developer onboarding strategy goes much deeper, introducing the firm’s culture, values, and vision.

We take all new employees through a guided orientation on day one to ensure they understand the firm’s vision and core values. By showing examples of how the firm’s mission or culture is lived out by employees from top to bottom, you’ll set both the standard and clear expectations on how important culture and core values play a role in the firm.

3. Bridge the Gap

Frogslayer frequently welcomes new developers with diverse backgrounds and expertise levels. Our onboarding process serves as the bridge between their existing skills and the firm’s standards and methodologies.

An effective onboarding allows for new hires to quickly integrate into ongoing projects, minimizing disruptions and accelerating their ability to learn and contribute as a team member.

Documentation plays a huge role in this, allowing new team members to accurately review and reference standard operating procedures. By providing a clear roadmap, training, and mentorship, the firm can nurture talent and empower new hires to contribute meaningfully from day one.

4. Autonomy by Default

Due to the diverse nature of projects here, there’s never a 100% ‘right way’ to do things. We do not believe in busy work or test projects. Instead, we encourage autonomy and self-driven learning by working on real-world problems.

People learn best by doing – and sometimes that means making mistakes. Make sure new team members feel encouraged and comfortable enough to take on new challenges knowing they have the support of their team.

Make it a point to share project realities during onboarding. This includes walking new hires through project management tools, workflows, and the iterative nature of development.

5. Cater Training to the Person

While most developers come on board already possessing various levels of developed technical skills, the onboarding journey can further enhance their expertise. This could involve training on company-specific methodologies, communication principles, or best practices.

Frogslayer’s training program offers a personalized approach, ensuring that training content and duration are catered to the individual.

For example, junior developers typically have a more extensive training program reviewing coding foundational principles, whereas senior developers may have quicker training primarily reviewing project-specific architecture.

6. Empower Innovation

In software development, innovation is the driving force. Our onboarding experience dives deeper than just skills, we want our new colleagues to walk away with a full understanding of our culture of autonomy and creativity.

Every team member is provided a guide to our ‘Rules of Empowerment.’ These provide our employees with a framework for making critical business decisions without having to ask for approval.

If their motivation is aligned with the firm, the client, and our core values, our people are encouraged to own their work and their career and advance forward.

7. Facilitate Mentorship

Because every developer’s learning and working style is unique, providing a mentor can greatly benefit them. The onboarding process should facilitate mentorship connections, allowing new developers to learn from experienced colleagues.

This support system ensures that developers have someone to turn to for guidance, feedback, and insight, contributing to their professional development.

At Frogslayer, each new hire is paired with an established and experienced team member who serves as their dedicated mentor and go-to for inquiries during the onboarding phase. This mentorship often extends well past the initial phase, fostering deeper collaboration and camaraderie among peers.

8. Encourage Continuous Learning

In the evolving field of software development, consistent growth is key. Onboarding is just the beginning of a journey in continuous learning.

Here, we advocate for self-driven learning and development by encouraging developers to pursue ongoing training opportunities, conferences, and internal knowledge-sharing platforms.

By having dedicated career growth budgets, including career pathing in manager meetings and performance reviews, and hosting internal collaboration opportunities – firms can instill the desire and resources for developers to advance their skills.

Closing Thoughts

Investing in onboarding is investing in the future of your company and the future of your employees. By developing a smooth and consistent process, onboarding is able to be a driving force that propels new hires to become engaged team members. It can not only shape their path in their career but also build the foundation for an innovative and collaborative work environment.

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