Secret ingredients to quality software

SSW Foursquare

Rules to Better Induction - 5 Rules

  1. Do you have an induction program?

    Companies have a lot of information and standards – some of it is public (E.g. SSW Rules), some of it is private (E.g. SSW Intranet). When there are thousands of documents, new employees should be given a guided process so they know what is important.

    When someone joins a company, it is a stressful event... they have to remember people's names, references to where things are... there is a lot of assumed knowledge and explanations of "this is how we do things".

    New employees often get inconsistently onboarded depending on who they got their initial information from.

    An induction system is a way to solve these problems. SSW uses and recommends SugarLearning.com.

    What SugarLearning does is aggregate your learning items into the one space to make it easy for you to complete your induction. Once you've done your reading, the follow-up quizzes help you confirm what you have learned.

    It's also a great continuous learning tool that shows employees where to find relevant information and also tests their knowledge. It's especially useful when a process changes, as a learning item can be invalidated and all employees informed to complete a new process.

    Certain jobs have a module and completing them gives each employee a license to do that job.

    What's what?

    SugarLearning is an induction program for things you must complete before starting work… E.g. Before you do a Spec Review, you must have done the Module - Spec Review. It’s like getting your license.

    The Intranet is the location of all information, standards and "how-tos" that must be private. In some projects we have specific Wikis for those too.

    Rules is where we kept all information, standards and "how-tos" that can be public.

    - Adam Cogan

  2. The first day of a new job can be daunting. For the new starter, the workplace is unfamiliar, their colleagues are strangers, and there’s so much to learn they think their heads might explode. All up, it’s a stressful time.

    There are a few simple ways to help new hires feel more comfortable as they adjust to their new workspace:

    Before they start

    Plan to welcome on the day - Make sure a team member will be there to greet them on the day!

    Active accounts - Set a reminder to check if their accounts are activated before they start, by pinging them on Teams, saying hello and introducing yourself. E.g. “Hi I’m (your name), (your title). I just wanted to say hi, and to let you know to contact me if you need anything”

    Induction Buddy - Before they start, you should make sure you have assigned someone to sit next to the new starter (when possible) for the first weeks to help them as much as possible.

    Friendly hello - It's a great experience if they have already met a team member, prior to the start date, so they have a friendly face to go to! We recommend the Induction Buddy to set up a 15-minute virtual coffee catch-up to introduce themselves and say hello (tip: you can use whatever comms tool your company uses, like Teams or Slack). Order them some coffee/breakfast delivery e.g. Uber Eats for an extra touch for this call! This experience also works for remote employees.

    Clean up - Prior to the newcomer’s arrival, make sure their desk and work area are clean by giving the desktop, monitor, mouse and keyboard a wipe with a damp cloth. Then test that the equipment on their desk, such as the computer, phone and any other electronics, is in good working condition.

    Welcome Shot
    Figure: Nice and clean work area

    The day before they start

    Give them a call and make sure they're ready and know what to bring with them, what to wear, etc.

    At SSW, we give the newcomers the option to bring their own equipment, so make sure to ask them before they start.

    On their first day

    On the newcomer’s first day, have the manager leave a short “welcome to the company” handwritten note and a cup of good coffee at the newcomer’s workstation to greet them first thing (The welcome message could even be written ON the cup if possible). Make sure they have someone looking after them.

    Other nice days could include:

    • A mug ☕
    • A map of the area with some cool things pointed out (good coffee spots, restaurants, etc.) 🗺️
    • Use a blank notebook to write a welcome note and put handy hints inside, then they can continue to use the notepad during induction! 📓

    Penny Welcome Pic
    Good example: Personal, fun welcome to SSW Sydney with all of the good food and coffee tips!

    It’s also a nice idea to take the newbie out to lunch on their first day so they can get to know their co-workers outside of the office.
    Note: check if they have any special dietary requirements.

    For the first day, it's also a good idea to set up a time for a quick meeting to see how they are going and if they need any help - especially if they are remote employees!

    These are some thoughtful ways to show the new hire that the company is pleased to have them on board, and leave them with a good first impression of their new workplace. ⭐

    Find the longer version of this post on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  3. Having a clear, concise method of tracking tasks and priorities is important.

    If you have a very lightweight induction system (a day or less to complete) it makes sense to get it done first and then join a Scrum team to start doing your normal work.

    If you have a more comprehensive induction system (that takes more than a day, and some take weeks or even months) then it can be isolating to be doing your induction alone and separated from the rest of the team you will be working with. In this scenario, it's recommended that you create an "Induction" PBI in the backlog to track your induction work. Then the new employees' induction activities will feel like part of the job.

    For more information, read the 8 Steps to Scrum.

    To achieve that you should:

    1. Talk to your Manager to work out which Scrum team you'll be joining
    2. Either create OR if you don't have permissions, have someone on that team create a new PBI (e.g. "Induction") where you will add and track your induction work as tasks

    Induction PBI
    Figure: Good Example - Including a new employee's induction PBI should be done early

  4. It can be sad when a co-worker is leaving the job, but you should always find a good reason to celebrate the day and make it special – especially if they worked for the company for a long time.

    You should always provide as good of an experience for when your staff leave, as when they joined the organization.

    Here are some ideas:

    • Have a special lunch with the whole team
    • Prepare a card signed by all team members to say goodbye
    • Get the team together for drinks after work (if you are working remotely, this can be done via Microsoft Teams or Zoom)
    • Get the boss to write a speech about the soon to be ex-employee and make sure everyone can participate in the farewell

    Of course, you can personalize it according to each employee’s personality.

    As a goodbye could be due to redundancy, or a resignation, it’s always a good idea to ask the employee how they might feel about the situation. This is an important step to ensure they are comfortable. 

    https://m.facebook.com/SSW.page/photos/a.334643903218918/3543398045676805/?type=3

  5. Email templates are an important way to communicate standard emails that should be sent. Usually, these emails need to be sent to a specific person. It is easy to fall into the trap of addressing the templates to that person. This method leads to problems because when that person needs to change, there could be hundreds of locations to change and those locations may not be visible.

    So, what are the solutions?

    Use a Role

    Instead of an individual, it is better to address the name of a role. For example, if the person is in charge of the product then you might call them "The Product Champion". This title, means that if the responsible person changes then it is a matter of changing who "The Product Champion" is rather than updating that person everywhere in your system.

    Use a Distribution Group

    Another problem, is that people may have difficulty finding out who "The Product Champion" is, or they may have to navigate your intranet to find them. So, the gold standard is to setup a distribution group that represents this role. Using the distribution group, people know what email to send to immediately, and the responsible people can be swapped out easily.

    Manage People Assigned to Distribution Groups

    When you create and manage the distribution group, try to keep in mind who is going to be included in the distribution group. If the group is to be used in the "To" field of an email then start the group with "The" and limit it to just one person e.g. TheProductChampion. That way, the person can be directly addressed in the email as per Do you know who to put in the "To:" field?

    If the group will be used in the "Cc" field of an email, then try to end it with an "s" to indicate it is a plural e.g. AccountManagers. That way people know they shouldn't use this group for the "To" field.

    Keep Distribution Groups Up-to-date

    To make sure distribution groups are always up to date it is also important to have a regular script that runs to check for empty distribution groups so they can be updated.

    badexamplepiersaddresseddirectlyredbox
    Figure: Bad example - Piers is directly addressed

    okayexampleproductchampionmonikerusedredbox
    Figure: Okay example - The Product Champion moniker is used

    goodexampleproductchampiondistributiongroupusedredbox
    Figure: Good Example - TheProductChampion@ssw.com.au distribution group is used

We open source. Powered by GitHub