#110 - 23 Apr 2022
Onboarding, Mentoring, and Listening; Reverse Interview your New Team
Onboarding Can Make or Break a New Hire’s Experience - Sinazo Sibisi and Gys Kappers
I’m obviously thinking a lot about onboarding lately!
When we do hire, we often put a lot of work and effort into actually finding and hiring someone, and then the work kind of … stops. There’s not a lot of effort put into the “on ramp” to the job, getting people geared up and ready to succeed in their first three months or so. That makes the new hires unhappy - you’ve presumably made a point of hiring someone who is a high-achiever and wants to get stuff done - and it makes the other team members unhappy as it takes a long time for the new hire to come up to speed and pull their weight.
The situation is even more dire in teams that don’t get to hire very often, so their processes are rusty and onboarding materials are out of date. One of the reasons I really like hiring student interns year around is that it presents a huge opportunity (if taken, which I didn’t always do!) to get the hiring/onboarding/offboarding processes running really smoothly, and to improve it over time.
Sibisi and Kappers walk through their recommendations for improving onboarding. Like so much in managing, it’s not rocket science and the recommendations aren’t huge flashes of insight - it’s paying attention to the details and doing the work
Setting goals for the onboarding process
Collaborate across departments, units, (and I’d add stakeholders) the team member would be interacting with
Make sure the new hire receives support consistently through the process
Mentoring Conversations: How to Be Remarkably Helpful with Limited Time - Karin Hurt, Let’s Grow Leaders
How to improve your listening skills? Here are five tips. - Laurie Brown
Honestly I’m pretty down on mentoring in this newsletter, not because it’s bad but because advice is often so cheaply given compared to (say) actively sponsoring a team member for new opportunities.
If you’re deeply thinking about what your mentee wants and ask a lot of questions, particular questioning their assumptions and using something of a more coaching approach to help them find their own answers, it can be really valuable. Hurt here describes a mentoring conversation that changed her career path.
Relatedly, Brown reminds us that listening well takes a lot of effort and practice; her five steps for listening (in mentoring or other conversations) are:
Pay attention to their body language, emotional tenor, and to what’s not being said
Acknowledge what they said - paraphrasing back is a very powerful tool
Inquire to get deeper
And then respond.
Managing Your Own Career
Reverse Interviewing Your Future Manager and Team - Gergely Orosz
There’s no perfect jobs, but there are bad jobs, and there are overall good jobs which nonetheless are a very bad match to what you personally prefer and want to be doing every day.
Once you get an offer you can start reverse-interviewing in earnest. I don’t mean the “what does success look like in this role” kind of question you ask in the last 5 minutes of a 60 minute interview slot, I mean really digging deep to figure out what working in the job would actually be like. Especially if you have a couple of offers (and todays environment is very conducive to getting multiple offers), the information uncovered here can help guide you to a choice you’ll be happy with for a few years.
Besides any specific questions that you have after thinking about the role and the organization - anything which seems odd or surprising to you - Orosz and some of his colleagues contribute some pretty good general purpose questions for the hiring manager but also senior peers you’d be working with:
What are you most excited about for the next six months?
What did your typical workweek look like for the past month?
How would you describe the team dynamics
What advice would you give the new hire to be successful?
Hsa anyone left the team? What was the reason?
Can you show a non-trivial code review [LJD - or migration or update or…]?
What separates a good day from a bad day for you? (and then dig into how often the bad days occur and what causes them)
What do you like and dislike about the manager?
Who did they last promote on the team, and why?
How supportive are they as a manager?
Even if the answers only solidify your decision to join the new company, they will be useful for giving you a head start, knowing better what to expect in your first months.
The fascinating history of Lotus Improv, 1991s most innovative take on spreadsheets, with an unquestionably better underlying take on data and which equally unquestionably failed completely. (Check out the incredibly late 80s/early 90s video!)
A very complete list of terminal tricks for Mac, aimed at those new to the terminal but including some Mac specific things I hadn’t heard of.
A lovely interactive visual tutorial on different approaches to rotations in 3D, and maybe the only quaternion explanation you’ll ever see featuring an adorable cartoon cow.
And that’s it for another week. Let me know what you thought, or if you have anything you’d like to share about the newsletter or management. Just email me or reply to this newsletter if you get it in your inbox.
Have a great weekend, and good luck in the coming week with your team,