Day 1 checklist – Make the new guy the hero

Hi Kalle,

since I just started at a new company and am in the first few weeks in the “getting-up-to-speed” phase where you go around feeling kinda useless and stupid, I have two good, solid tips for how to make sure to get your new employee a flying start.

So when you have to hire a guy three years from now to your gloriously successful start-up, whip out this post and make sure to:

1) Have everything ready for them.

Computer, chair, phone, keycard, whatever system access they need (especially to SVN/TFS/etc – for some reason version handling always gets forgotten by HR, I wonder why…).

Everything you need to do good work should be there ready to use at day 1 – no exceptions. If the hire has a choice of computer or phone, make sure to sort this during the time between the signing and the first day so everything is ready to go.

If you have this all sorted and stars align on that first day, you have a chance to…

2) Have the new guy/girl make an impact in the company on day 1.

First day at Lavasoft, I got to fix a bug for customer support that caused their support form to give the customer the impression that their ticket failed submitting, causing the customer to type in the same request over and over again in an increasingly agitated tone, producing a nice mess for the support department to deal with.

I wrote a single line of code, managed to publish the change and voila! – instant gratitude by the support department and saved money for the company on day 1. Couldn’t have asked for a better start.

This was by pure chance in my case but in future hires, I will try to make this part of the introduction plan – to have a task that needs doing that day that is important for the company, so they get to be the hero on the first day of work. I forgot this at my last company, so this is as much a reminder to you as it is to me.

Some ideas for suitable tasks might be:

  • Fix a bug that can be published the same day.
  • Improve the language of a particularly nastily written public webpage / wiki.
  • Answer customer questions on the company forum.
  • Fixing the resolution of the projector in the conference room so that it actually fits the canvas. (We might have this problem at work…)

Can you think of other useful tasks in the same spirit?

Take care,

Mattias

 

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7 thoughts on “Day 1 checklist – Make the new guy the hero

  1. I think this is a great idea!

    I think it’s very much the norm that people spend the first few days sorting out these little details… When I was at LS it was a few months before I even had a proper chair. Not only does it make the employee ready to go, but it gives them the feeling that this is a place that really has it’s sh*t together, and that they should too.

    I don’t know about this idea, but maybe you can have them spend a few hours with with product owner on their first day… Massaging the backlog, as it were… The idea is that they would be contributing to the future of the product from day 1. Not the same feeling of accomplishment as your bug fix, but maybe more of feeling of participation and empowerment.

    What do you think?

    //Jeff

    • When I was at LS it was a few months before I even had a proper chair.

      Yeah, I remember the assortment of furniture in the customer support room, you should always be wary of workplaces with undersized “desks” and café chairs… 😉

      Not only does it make the employee ready to go, but it gives them the feeling that this is a place that really has it’s sh*t together, and that they should too.

      QFT!

      I don’t know about this idea, but maybe you can have them spend a few hours with with product owner on their first day… Massaging the backlog, as it were… The idea is that they would be contributing to the future of the product from day 1. Not the same feeling of accomplishment as your bug fix, but maybe more of feeling of participation and empowerment.

      Yeah, I like that one! Give them a few stories from the top of the backlog that are still in need of depth in the descriptions and send them chasing a few of the friendlier stakeholders for details to flesh them out. Good one!

    • I hope so 😉

      New guy coming in on Monday – my personal goal set for this hire is that he will start to system test before lunch, let’s see if we can make that happen!

  2. So, here we are on day 2 of my new assignment… and I do not feel like the hero.

    To be fair, the person who has been preping to intro us got sick on the day I arrived, and so was not available to get us up and running… But the effect is the same.

    It’s day 2, no one seems to really know what I am supposed to be doing, and I am already starting to feel like “why am I here?, Do I really fit in this project?, am I actually going to bring any value here?”

    To be fair again, this seems to be a fantastic project, good team, most of the right ideas, great customer… All those good things… So, maybe this is why I am wondering what I am doing here.

    So, how do I find my purpose with no guidance?

    //Jeff

  3. Thought I should update. After the first customer meeting and a day of pairing with another team member, I now feel I have some direction to head in.

    But I think this story very clearly illustrates how getting off on the wrong foot can do damage. So, make the new guy the hero!

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