Do you remember your first days at your new job? The stress of upcoming responsibilities, the happiness of getting your dream job, the curiosity of meeting new coworkers...A little emotional rollercoaster, right? Been there, done that :)
In my case, fortunately, I had the support of a colleague from the new team, who became my Buddy and helped me go smoothly through the onboarding, making it much less stressful. Since then, I've had the pleasure of being a Buddy for my new teammates many a time in various organizations, which only confirms my belief that a supportive, well-prepared onboarding process is key in building long-term relationships between an employee and a team and a company.
So what is the most important in being a Buddy for your new colleague? How to be supportive and make a new teammate welcome from the very first days? This article describes all you need to know to become a great Buddy in 6 steps.
Who is the Buddy in the onboarding process?
Buddy is a coworker who helps a new employee handles their first weeks at work, making it easier for them to find their way in the company. What's essential, Buddy shouldn't be a manager or team leader but a colleague from a team.
What tasks does a Buddy have?
- Introducing new employees to the rest of the team
- Being the first point of contact during the first weeks of work
- Arranging a (remote) lunch and coffee break to give a new person a warm welcome
- Communicating informal rules and introducing new employees to company culture
- Supporting with first tasks and sharing project's/ team's know-how
In general, Buddy is a colleague who helps new employees go through the onboarding process smoothly and makes them feel welcome from the beginning. How to do it?
Step 1: Invest your time
The onboarding process takes time - it's not something you can gallop through quickly. Being a Buddy means spending extra hours introducing a new teammate to the rest of the team, explaining tasks and tools, answering questions, and resolving doubts. But this investment turns a profit very soon! This extra effort bring in a well-onboarded, less stressed, and much more self-confident colleague who knows how the team works, what tools and technology to use, and what their responsibilities are. The game is worth a candle! :)
Step 2: Encourage a new employee to ask questions
We differ, and it's our beauty. Some people feel comfortable in a new environment. Some, quite the opposite, need time and space to get used to a new situation. That's why it's crucial for you, as a Buddy, to encourage your new colleague to ask questions. Be proactive, open, and eager to address all their doubts. And most of all - underline that there are no stupid questions, and you all are here to learn from each other and grow professionally.
Step 3: Share your know-how
Working in IT, one of the fastest-growing industries, means there is always something new to learn. Technologies change all the time, and it's good to be up-to-date. Probably you already have your favorite blog, podcasts, course, or books that you find valuable - don't keep them to yourself! Learn what topics your new teammate is interested in and drop them extra inspiration. You can organize learn&share sessions during which you both can share know-how from previous and current projects.
Step 4: Give constructive feedback
Feedback is an integral part of development. And as a Buddy, you should give constructive, honest feedback to your new colleague. Only this way the new person can learn what they do great and what needs improvement. While giving feedback, be honest and straightforward. Focus on specific tasks and situations, give examples, and avoid indirect communication.
There is no worse situation than joining a new team, giving a hundred percent at tasks, and having no idea if what you do is what others expect from you. None of us are mindreaders, and trying to be one can be super stressful and exhausting! The same goes for positive feedback - we all want to be praised for a job well done, and there is no better motivation than seeing our effort doesn't go unnoticed!
Step 5: Communicate your expectations
Again - your colleague is not a mindreader, and without clear communication, you won't go any further.
Do you want your new colleague to buckle down to the code review? Just say it without beating about the bush! Describe all the benefits of a well-done code review, and explain that, for example, devoting over one hour to a big pull request is a standard procedure, and everyone on the team works that way. Thanks to straightforward communication, you will avoid misunderstanding and reduces a vast amount of stress and uncertainty in a new employee.
Step 6: Not all at once!
As you can see, being a Buddy is not an easy ride, but at the same time, extremely gratifying and valuable experience! While preparing for this role, remember that your new colleague has a tremendous amount of new information to learn, which sometimes can be overwhelming. Rather than an 8-hour theoretical lecture about the technologies, tools, and company culture, prepare a few shorter sessions. Don't forget about casual meetings such as lunch or a coffee break - they are a perfect icebreaker!
The truth is that passing successfully through the recruitment process is just the beginning. The true magic happens during the onboarding. Done well, onboarding increases engagement and productivity, makes the first weeks much less stressful, and reduces turnover. And as a Buddy, you can be a vital part of it!
Implement these few steps and make someone's first weeks at work much more enjoyable!