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What is the best way to on-board (train) a new junior employee?

By Ben Kubicek,

Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is out of the office.

When a junior employee joins your team, there are a lot of things that need to happen for them to become productive. It is important for them to learn about the details of the business, such as what exactly does the company do? Sometimes there can be industry specific language that needs to be learned. Then there is another side of things for them to learn on the technical end of the spectrum.

This technical knowledge can be more important because it effects their ability to do their job and integrate well with the rest of the team. What source control is used? What style of writing code or scripts is standard? What naming standard is used? What tools, IDE etc. are used? How are things deployed, DevOps, etc.?

Then there is the whole aspect of teaching them skills they don’t know yet or haven’t been exposed to thus far in their career. Perhaps, they are stronger in the administration of SQL server, but haven’t done as much on the database programing side. Maybe they have never used PowerShell before.

Assuming this hypothetical new junior is willing and interested in learning and has enough technical aptitude, there shouldn’t be anything hindering them from becoming a senior someday, right? All it takes is a little investment from the more senior people on the team and perhaps some studying/reading books/online training on junior’s end.

Sadly, in some situations the more senior people don’t want to share, or invest in the people around them. Perhaps they are worried that after putting in the effort and training a junior some of their value as a senior will be diminished. Maybe, they believe once this junior gets enough experience they will just leave for a better job somewhere else.

These can be valid concerns, but I don’t think they should negate our obligation to share and teach others what we know. I would venture a guess that none of us who are seniors made it here without some help from others. So we should also be willing to help train and expand the knowledge of our junior colleagues. This should NOT be done in a condescending prideful way, but recognizing that we were once a junior and in need of someone to show us how to grow in our skills.

So how is this done where you work? Are people assigned to train juniors?  Do new juniors shadow seniors? Share what has worked or not in bringing new people up to speed where you work.

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