Teasing out the distinction between onboarding engineers and...

Teasing out the distinction between onboarding engineers and executives:

When onboarding a peer software engineer, your goal is to help them understand your current process and one specific onboarding project well enough to implement that one project. After two or three such projects, the new engineer will be relatively ramped up.

The best indicator in engineering onboarding is completing initial projects quickly at a high quality bar, which is typically most dependent on their ability to navigate a large, lightly documented codebase for the first time. Bad signs are making very slow progress on projects, as well as arguing about existing processes before ramping up on them

When onboarding a peer executive, your goal is to help them understand the company’s landscape (business, team, project, and process), with a particular focus on the most critical, current issues. There is so much to absorb, that they will get a very broad overview, and then go deep as required by the immediate fires they need to put out.

Good executives will immediately focus on the highest priority areas, check their plan with nearby peers before beginning implementation, and bring a positive energy (even if things are an absolute mess). Bad signs are inaction on key issues, changing areas that are already working well before addressing higher priorities, or immediately falling back onto previous companies’ approaches that fit poorly in their new circumstances