Did you miss the August 4 CTO Connection webinar “Improving Your Onboarding,” with engineering leaders from Cars.com, Neu, Grammarly, and Andela? If so, you missed 90 minutes of insight, wisdom, and inspiration about how to bring on new engineers and build high performing teams–especially relevant in this all-remote environment.

The good news is that a recording of the webinar is available, so it is not too late to catch up. Here is a brief preview of what you can expect.

Why I Hated My Onboarding

Cars.com CTO Fred Lee kicked off the session talking about “Why I Hate Your Onboarding,” which was really about why he hated his past onboarding experiences. He mostly hated signs of indifference in the introduction process–a desk with no chair, for example, or instructions where to find critical resources online but no instructions on how to log-in. 

Fred’s recommendations include making checklists for everything the new hire needs to learn and making the hiring manager accountable for completing the onboarding. He also focuses on engagement, planning lunches, virtual nowadays, with key contacts for the first two weeks. In the end, he said, recruiting, onboarding, and professional development for engineers should all be one continuous process. Onboarding tends to get overlooked the most. 

Remote-First Onboarding

Claudius Mbemba, CTO at Neu revealed “The Secret to Engineer Onboarding Excellence,” which he said is to approach it as a “remote first” experience. Remote onboarding is harder and takes more discipline than in-office versions, so focusing on getting the process right for remote developers makes the entire organization’s onboarding better. 

Of course, we’re all remote now, so his advice on how to make remote onboarding work is timely. Claudius emphasized taking the care to make onboarding digital (i.e., no binders), interactive where the new employee is learning by doing, and social so that people don’t feel isolated.  

Avoid Tissue Rejection

Heidi Williams, Head of Engineering at Grammarly, talked about “Setting New Senior Hires Up for Success”–with a fresh perspective from having been in her current position for just three weeks.  One risk to be aware of with senior engineers is what she called “tissue rejection.” Team members may distrust the new person because, for example, they may have wanted someone internal to get the job. Senior leaders can also struggle with a new culture, especially if they were at a previous employer for a long time. 

Heidi outlined 30, 60, and 90 goals and expectations for both new employees and their managers. 

There is No “I” In Team

Finally, Andela VP of Partner Engineering Wambui Kinya shared a detailed philosophy and plan for “Onboarding that Accelerates Development and Delivery,” based on her experience onboarding Andela engineers within Andela and with client teams. She pointed out that onboarding is often rushed because it is expensive–it requires time from everyone on the team and will likely cause a short-term slow-down in productivity. But, she pointed out, good onboarding improves long-term productivity by 70 percent and improves operational performance by 147 percent.

Wambui also talked about viewing onboarding as a process for the team, not just by the individtual. The goal is not only to get the new engineer up to speed but to enable the entire group to accelerate. She shared pre-hire, day 1, week 1, and 30-60-90 day goals and plans. Check it out in the webinar

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About the Author

Bill Peatman

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August 6, 2020

90 Minutes of CTO Insight in “Improving Your Onboarding” Webinar

Bill Peatman

Did you miss the August 4 CTO Connection webinar “Improving Your Onboarding,” with engineering leaders from Cars.com, Neu, Grammarly, and Andela? If so, you missed 90 minutes of insight, wisdom, and inspiration about how to bring on new engineers and build high performing teams–especially relevant in this all-remote environment.

The good news is that a recording of the webinar is available, so it is not too late to catch up. Here is a brief preview of what you can expect.

Why I Hated My Onboarding

Cars.com CTO Fred Lee kicked off the session talking about “Why I Hate Your Onboarding,” which was really about why he hated his past onboarding experiences. He mostly hated signs of indifference in the introduction process–a desk with no chair, for example, or instructions where to find critical resources online but no instructions on how to log-in. 

Fred’s recommendations include making checklists for everything the new hire needs to learn and making the hiring manager accountable for completing the onboarding. He also focuses on engagement, planning lunches, virtual nowadays, with key contacts for the first two weeks. In the end, he said, recruiting, onboarding, and professional development for engineers should all be one continuous process. Onboarding tends to get overlooked the most. 

Remote-First Onboarding

Claudius Mbemba, CTO at Neu revealed “The Secret to Engineer Onboarding Excellence,” which he said is to approach it as a “remote first” experience. Remote onboarding is harder and takes more discipline than in-office versions, so focusing on getting the process right for remote developers makes the entire organization’s onboarding better. 

Of course, we’re all remote now, so his advice on how to make remote onboarding work is timely. Claudius emphasized taking the care to make onboarding digital (i.e., no binders), interactive where the new employee is learning by doing, and social so that people don’t feel isolated.  

Avoid Tissue Rejection

Heidi Williams, Head of Engineering at Grammarly, talked about “Setting New Senior Hires Up for Success”–with a fresh perspective from having been in her current position for just three weeks.  One risk to be aware of with senior engineers is what she called “tissue rejection.” Team members may distrust the new person because, for example, they may have wanted someone internal to get the job. Senior leaders can also struggle with a new culture, especially if they were at a previous employer for a long time. 

Heidi outlined 30, 60, and 90 goals and expectations for both new employees and their managers. 

There is No “I” In Team

Finally, Andela VP of Partner Engineering Wambui Kinya shared a detailed philosophy and plan for “Onboarding that Accelerates Development and Delivery,” based on her experience onboarding Andela engineers within Andela and with client teams. She pointed out that onboarding is often rushed because it is expensive–it requires time from everyone on the team and will likely cause a short-term slow-down in productivity. But, she pointed out, good onboarding improves long-term productivity by 70 percent and improves operational performance by 147 percent.

Wambui also talked about viewing onboarding as a process for the team, not just by the individtual. The goal is not only to get the new engineer up to speed but to enable the entire group to accelerate. She shared pre-hire, day 1, week 1, and 30-60-90 day goals and plans. Check it out in the webinar

featured_image
About the Author

Bill Peatman

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