Primož Hadalin / Essays

Engaging new hires

Apr 9, 2019

There's a lot of talk on how to hire people, but we mustn’t lose sight that properly engaging new hires is just as important. I think I wouldn't be far-off to describe a new hire’s experience something like this: Early on, there's excitement because you're about to meet new people, learn new things and solve interesting problems. Every day presents an interesting if not overwhelming set of new stimuli and challenges. Not long after, however, you realize you're at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. You become one of many, not yet really contributing and yet to prove your competence. The honeymoon period is all too short. If not properly managed, a new employee’s morale can flag before she ever hits her stride.

But there’s a hack– and team leads, managers or even the CTO should strive to ensure a quicker and more consistent phase of fitting in. The trick is to assign the new hire a meaningful task that gives her a bit of authority over team members, thereby mitigating the "bottom of the food chain" feeling. An example might be giving them responsibility for the current sprint. Or the opportunity to lead daily stand-ups and check on the progress of tasks. Nothing serious enough to imperil delivery, but just enough to make them a significant part of the team right out of the gate. No doubt they get to learn coworkers' names more quickly, what each team member is working on and all the lingo. But above all, such granting of trust helps to make sure the power dynamics start, and stay, in balance.

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