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Build a Good Buddy System

Dana Cera

Onboarding Buddies Make Onboarding Better

You know by now that connecting your new hire with an onboarding buddy is critical to getting them up to speed. But what are the attributes of a good buddy and how do you choose them? Being a buddy involves more than a tour of the facilities and saying, “Well, if you have any questions, you know where to find me.” 

Tech companies have the most to gain from investing in a buddy program, and we have some tips for finding your best buddies.

First, the Buddy Must Be So Inclined

If a buddy doesn’t understand or enjoy teaching and supporting new hires, they’re not going to enjoy being a buddy. 

Secondly, they must have time—consistently and over a period of months. If every minute of their day is already spoken for, they're not going to be a useful resource.

And, perhaps most importantly, buddies need to have people skills. An engineer with 20 years of experience may have the knowledge but not the patience to show anyone the ropes. And the most creative engineer in the room may not know how to read a room. An ideal buddy understands what the new hire is expected to learn—and they have the interpersonal skills to help them learn it.

Set Up Buddies for Success

Once you’ve found the right buddy, empower them and equip them with the right tools. 

Rather than feel like they've been given extra work, buddies should see their role as an expansion of their leadership, training, and mentoring skills.

Provide an outline of expectations, define their role, and make a list of goals to meet at specific intervals. This will support both individuals throughout the transition. 

Create a framework for evaluating your buddy system going forward, because continual process improvement applies here too. 

Techniques and best practices will help with training, but buddies don’t just convey knowledge. They provide context, details that make an engineering team unique—what can take months or even years to obtain, answering questions like:

  • What are the team’s workflows and processes? 
  • How can the new hire acclimate to the company culture? 
  • How can they excel when they’re learning their jobs and everyone’s names? 
  • How does the team communicate within their team and among other departments?

Productivity increases when a team believes their own membership is worthwhile, so here’s one more pro-tip for you: Get the whole team on board when bringing new hires into the fold. If the team fosters a sense of belonging, everyone is creating the workplace they want to be in—and stay in.

Bringing in new members doesn’t have to cause a strain. It can be the beginning of a beautiful working relationship. 

Facilitate buddy relationships with eddy, the frictionless way to hire and onboard software engineers!

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