PyGrunn: setting up new developers for success - Marijke Luttekes

Tags: pygrunn, python

(One of my summaries of a talk at the 2021 10th Dutch PyGrunn one-day python conference).

Get your house in order first. Before you can start training people, you need to have an onboarding strategy in place. Make sure you’ve got that beforehand. You also need your communication tools to be ready.

Oh, and documentation is important! It is good in general, but there’s a specific advantage during onboarding: if you’ve got it, new developers get an opportunity to be more independent and to look things up for themselves

Let us get started guiding new devs. Psychological safety is important: you need to feel safe. Safe to talk about mistakes, safe to make suggestions.

If you’re the senior: keep in mind your position of power. If you say something, a junior developer might think it is The Law.

What you don’t want: a clone of yourself! It is good for a company to have diversity.

Bring the new developer with you to meetings. And let them speak! (So try to shut up a bit yourself).

Success is a team effort - and so is failure.

New developers need feedback. Compliment in public, negative feedback in private. Oh, and make an effort in general to give compliments. In IT, we’re not very good at communication. Negative comments (“fix this”, “improve this”) in pull requests: yes those come natural to us. But compliments??? We’re not used to it. But they can do so much good, so try to make them more.

Limit contact moments: don’t be a “helicopter parent” that hovers over their “kids”. And stick to 1:1 sessions.

Some nuggets of wisdom:

  • Treat people like they are going to be around for years. You can ask “what if we train someone and they leave?” but you can also ask “what if we don’t train someone and they stay”?

  • Happy employees become your billboard. logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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