7 Tips For Onboarding Agile Team Members

A good onboarding experience can make your new team member feel like they’ve made the right choice to join your company. An indifferent experience in their first few weeks might have them reaching for the number of their recruitment consultant again.

According to TALX, over 40% of new hires leave their jobs in the first six months. That’s bad news for the team which has invested time and effort into bringing them up to speed: now you’ve got to do it all again. And let’s not mention the cost involved of hiring that person in the first place — cost that you now have to incur again for your next hire.

Making your new Agile expert’s first few days in your team a positive experience can go a long way to ensuring they fit in well and contribute effectively to the team from the start. Here are 7 tips for onboarding Agile recruits.

On Day 1

It’s their first day. Get them a drink, walk them around the office, show them where the facilities are. They might be nervous, even if they aren’t showing it. Show them where the team works and where they can call ‘home’.

Agile teams are often highly engaged and participative, but that also means your new starter is trying to break into an existing social set-up where the communication and collaboration channels are already well-established. Brief your existing team on what you expect from them so that they are also primed to make their new colleague feel welcome.

They can’t work without the right kit. Check that they have:

  • A security badge to enter the building if they need it.
  • Laptop
  • Logins to the software they need.
  • Permission to see the right project workspaces within those software tools.
  • Email and/or other collaboration tools set up.
  • Anything else other team members use that should be extended to them as well.

Your new team member has come to the company to work, and they are bound to be keen to get started. Make sure they attend the daily stand-up and have a moment to introduce themselves to the team.

Go over the job role and the immediate priorities, making sure that they understand what it is they need to do.

Moving Forward

It can take three months for someone to start fully contributing in their new role. Give your new starter time to adjust to your work environment, but make sure your onboarding process carries on for more than just their first day.

Your Agile project is likely to be midway through, unless you are in the enviable position of hiring a team before the work starts. If that isn’t the case, you’ll be bringing someone in to an established team, working on an established project.

Make sure you spend enough time with them so that they fully understand what it is that the project is doing. Share the vision, the backlog, the work in progress. Talk them through the Kanban board for the team, or the burndown charts for the past few weeks, so that they see first-hand what progress has been made and where you are planning to take the project next.

Make this part of their onboarding a two-way process. They might see something in the retrospectives that you haven’t picked up yet, or have something valuable to share from a similar piece of work at another company that your existing team could benefit from. Ask them to share their experience, or ask how they did it at their previous company.

Setting goals for the coming weeks, months and year isn’t perhaps the thing to do on Day 1, but you don’t want to leave it too long. People do best when they know what it is they are being assessed against and how their performance will be monitored.

On the subject of monitoring performance…

There’s no excuse for poor performance. Make sure that the newest member of the team knows that, and knows what to do if they need to escalate a problem or ask for help.

Meet with them regularly to get feedback on how they are finding the role and to give them feedback on their performance. If they aren’t getting things right, correct them as soon as you can, because the longer it goes on, the more it will become a habit. In the first few weeks they will still be finding out how things work and that’s a great opportunity to help them see the ways in which you want them to work.

Of course, be open to feedback about how things work. Just because you run your Agile team a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best process in the world. Your new recruit may be doing things differently, and they might be better. Take the time to find out before you try to reform them in your corporate shape.

They may have worked in Agile environments for a long time, but they have never worked in yours before. Think about what training they might need to support their long-term career in your organization. That might be around process and methodology, especially if you have some ways of working that are unique to your teams. It might also be industry-level training, such as helping them achieve an Agile certification to bring them in line with the qualifications other people in the team already have.

Finally, be around to answer questions. Make it clear that you are available to help if they have queries about anything, at any time.

Contact us at Triumph Strategic Consulting to learn more about how we can help you find the perfect fit for your Agile team.


Originally published at www.triumphstrategicconsulting.com on October 31, 2016.