#115 - 4 Jun 2022
Remote Onboarding of Software Developers - Paige Rodeghero, It will Never Work in Theory, Live!
Please Turn Your Cameras On: Remote Onboarding of Software Developers during a Pandemic - Paige Rodeghero, Thomas Zimmermann, Brian Houck and Denae Ford, arXiv:2011.08130
I’ll highlight some other talks from this workshop in the Research Software Development section below, but this talk is relevant for I think all research computing teams - how to onboard technical staff when we’re all working from home.
Getting someone up to speed on the work of a team and on the team itself is always tough, but in this lower-communications-bandwidth world where there’s a lot less in-person interaction, it’s even harder. Doing it well, though, is vital - getting people successful as early as possible is important not only for the team’s effectiveness but for the newcomer’s morale and engagement.
Rodeghero here presents her work based on survey results from 267 new hires at Microsoft in the first year of the pandemic, when processes were still very much in flux. Successful onboarding had several things in common, and from that she makes eight recommendations:
Cameras on should be the default culture
Promote proactive communication (e.g. new team member asking for help)
Schedule 1:1 meetings with all team members
Explain the Org Chart (and other information about the organization)
Assign an onboarding buddy & technical mentor
Support multiple onboarding speeds
Assign a simple first task
Provide up-to-date documentation
We may not always need to distinguish between the supervisor, technical mentor and onboarding buddy - any two of those is likely enough - but everything else is very relevant. I think one thing that doesn’t come up very much elsewhere is that Rodeghro found new hires really struggled to understand the team dynamics and form bonds with the team when everyone had their cameras off. I think this is easy to forget when our teams have long average tenures and most of us know each other well - we know how to interpret people’s voices. But new people joining will really struggle if everyone is just an avatar in a box on a screen.
A cheap and reliable and widely-used German credit card terminal recently reached the point where it would no longer be supported - and then a certificate or key or something expired, producing mild credit-card chaos in Germany.
A computer-music language for your browser - glicol.
Digging into information theory, optimal strategy, and wordle.
The unreasonable effectiveness of “have you tried turning it off, then back on again”? (Honestly, why do we ever even turn these blasted machines on in the first place?)
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,