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The onboarding process for experienced software engineers

Published: January 4, 2023

Managers may expect experienced software engineers to understand, or quickly learn, certain tools or topics. But that isn’t always the case. Mismanaged expectations can cause managers to jump to conclusions about a new hire’s skills and ability. To prevent this, define reasonable expectations (not assumptions) and the reasoning behind them.

If a new hire isn’t meeting expectations, take a step back and look for the root cause. Are they struggling due to their ability levels? Or are they struggling because of poor documentation, inadequate onboarding, broken processes, or a toxic code review process?

Meet with the new hire to uncover their blockers and how you can help. For example, let’s say you have a new senior developer who’s spending a lot of time writing code. With a bit of probing, you discover they received a large project with ambiguous requirements. As a result, they’re writing more code and asking the program manager questions they need answers to before they can proceed.

Vague requirements can create friction for all of the developers, not just new hires. This is an opportunity to work with program managers to fix that process and streamline work for the entire team.