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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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The Buddy System

It was also important for new employees to be connected to people who really understood the Apple culture, so we would assign each new hire to someone in the organization—someone the person did not know—who would become the newbie’s “buddy.” The buddy’s job was to give answers and provide support or reassurance as needed, whenever the new hire had questions or concerns about Apple or his own job. The buddy was also available for more mundane things like helping the newbie learn her way around the building and the campus.

The buddy can be very valuable in helping the newcomer get through this awkward period. We would try to have buddies who were in another organization; a new programmer, for instance, might be assigned a buddy from the marketing organization. (After Steve’s return, he changed the name to iBuddy, for a reason that every Apple follower will understand.) I marvel that a program Steve and I started over 30 years ago is still relevant today. Although in today’s Apple secrecy is so paramount that some new hires are assigned to a cubicle in a different work area until their manager has enough confidence in their sense of security that they can be allowed to begin knowing about the work of the team they’re joining.

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