Chapter 61. Onboard People, Not Technology

Marcus Blankenship

At my first programming job, it took three weeks to get my dev environment fully set up. I was only the second developer to work at the company, ever, so nothing was documented. The first person quit, which is why I had the job. At my second job, it took only four days because I was the eighth person in the programming department, so I had seven other people to help me. Today, my clients tell me things like, “we use Docker, so it takes less than an hour to onboard a new developer.”

I’m glad new devs don’t need to face the same frustrations that I did. But setting up a productive dev environment isn’t onboarding. Onboarding is setting up a person to work productively on your team.

A Leadership Smell

Some managers might fall into the trap of believing that after they’re done setting up the dev environment, they’ve done their part to make the new developer successful and that the rest is up to the new employee, that all they need is a computer, a chair, a dev environment, and a project to work on.

This is a dangerous leadership smell. Dangerous for the manager, yes, but mostly for the new developer.

The danger is the unspoken idea that after we apply onboarding to a new developer, they have everything they need to be productive. Of course, when you read it, it seems sort of ridiculous.

But I get a whiff of this from ...

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