Don't be a terrible mentor
Don't make your new hires resent your team
Mentors can make or break the onboarding experience for new hires. Through my experience ramping up many engineers at different levels, I have learned the importance of the following core mentorship pillars:
Welcome the new hire with a smile and sincerity. On their first day, sit with them while pointing out the team's onboarding resources. Even if the team wiki explains everything, take the time to whiteboard the main components and their first task. This shows care and that they are truly welcome.
Give them a short history of the team and what various members are working on. Chat about interesting customer problems and idiosyncrasies in the system.
Invite them to team lunches and other social events. Give them a bit of background if they feel left out of the team's casual discussions and inside jokes. These actions may seem obvious, but we often forget to execute them amidst deadlines and other craziness.
Value of Their Work
New hires need to feel like they are an important part of the team. A nice way to make this happen is by ensuring they start working on something important but non-urgent (you do not want them dealing with an unrealistic deadline in their first weeks). The true importance of their task may not be very obvious to them while the rest of the team may be focused on something more urgent. Help them understand the team's vision and the broader picture.
New hires, especially senior ones, may be anxious about finding their critical place on the team right in the first two weeks. Also not every engineer is the same - some like more clarity upfront while other are totally fine with a higher level of ambiguity. So a single project plan does not work for all. You need to adjust based on how things are going.
I recall some conversations where new hires did not feel deeply connected to their next longer projects and feared running out of things to do too quickly. Some thought the next project may not be meaty enough and would not be level appropriate for performance reviews. In some cases, after delving deeper into conversations, I realized they simply did not internalize the priorities. This is when I worked closely with them, whiteboarding the problem statement, raising & answering frequently asked questions, and encouraging them to ask more questions.
Mentors should have frequent 1-1s with new hires, at least until they feel settled in. More importantly, mentors should help drive these meetings even if the mentees do not. I prefer meeting a couple of times in the first two weeks and then meeting at least once a week for the first two months.
The mentor needs to:
be a thought partner for their tasks
understand if they are spending too much or too little time figuring things out on their own
identify what may be slowing them down and provide actionable feedback
deliver any constructive feedback in a direct way
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