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Old 04-13-2021, 06:50 AM
 
Location: NNJ
13,326 posts, read 7,576,633 times
Reputation: 14091

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Most of my employment has been with smaller or startup companies. The headcount is relatively small so its usually expected and part of their culture that people hit the ground running, try to figure things out on their own, and hold multiple roles. They simply don't have a lot of employees. Attrition hits the organization harder since knowledge lies with a smaller number of people. Its the reason why I usually encourage younger engineers to consider those jobs; teaches you a lot, allows for greater flexibility to work different types of roles, and how to figure things out. All of which requires some personal dedication/time beyond the normal 9-5.

This is just part of the game for smaller/startup style companies. I personally have seen more pros than cons working for these companies. I've never encountered a person in these companies that was not willing to try and help with the on-boarding process.... just limited by knowledge/time.

However, let's not mistaken this for the sink and swim method of onboarding that is perpetuated by management. For me psychologically it felt more like I was pledging for some frat and working created/manufactured challenges. It is an archaic process that doesn't benefit anyone. It doesn't help with team melding and teamwork. We should do our best to build up team members and foster team work.

Last edited by usayit; 04-13-2021 at 07:01 AM..
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:07 AM
 
11,066 posts, read 19,939,986 times
Reputation: 22663
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlygal View Post
If you need support, what's preventing you from seeking it yourself? Most long term colleagues are willing to answer questions.
You shouldn't have to ask how to do a new job -- you should be taught how to do a new job. Then, if you have problems, you ask for assistance.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:37 AM
 
3,278 posts, read 1,304,475 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neely47 View Post
Many people think sink or swim is a valid onboarding strategy, but I don’t understand it. It personally seems like a bad idea, especially for new grads and interns. How do you guys feel about the sink or swim approach to onboarding? I think many talented people don't operate this way and need basic support when they start out. Personally, I think it's "lazy" and poor management.
It is lazy and poor management and entirely misguided.

For my group, I hire people because it is a business and we have real work they need to do. I can't see the point of doing any sort of hazing of new people. I'm not looking to fire people, I'm looking out for them to perform better than expectations. We ask for suggestions from people who after they have been there awhile on what could be improved for onboarding. From my experiences, if you don't do the onboarding right you end up losing people because it sets them up with a bad attitude. It also leads to misconceptions of how things work. Everyone wants to be productive and feel they are making a contribution. So we go out of our way to assign new people a small task which helps introduce them to our system and the people they go to for help.

I have also mentored high school and college interns, and I wouldn't dream of setting them up for failure to teach them some "lesson". Or that nonsense of tearing people down so you can rebuild them. I carefully selected them for their internships, I couldn't possibly see a reason to set them up for failure as a way to test them. If a new employee doesn't work out, I consider it our failing not the employee. After all, we selected them and put things in place for them to be successful. Again, we selected them and considering there is an entire HR department to narrow down the selection and we go much further, we didn't do a good job if they don't work out.

A friend of mine joined a small software shop of about 11 people. For over a month he was entirely ignored. No one was available to answer his questions, and he had no real assignment. Then they had the big meeting with everyone in the office purposely excluding him, and the discussion he was told later was about him and "What are we going to do about him?". They decided to now have everyone focus on him to give support and assigned him to report to a junior programmer when he was hired as a project lead. But the damage was done. He said he found this stupid and insulting, he resigned and took a better paying job with a much larger company who gave him productive work to do right away. This was a business and it is stupid to waste and discourage resources like this. Within a couple of years the old place went out of business.
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:02 AM
 
13,235 posts, read 11,130,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe from dayton View Post
You shouldn't have to ask how to do a new job -- you should be taught how to do a new job. Then, if you have problems, you ask for assistance.
People are hired because of what they bring to the table. Not what they can learn. It is not outrageous to expect a new employee to bring their existing skills and knowledge to the new job, make an assessment, and then determine what gaps they need to fill for themselves.

If a company hires a developer with SQL listed on their resume, should an employer have to teach them how to write an inquiry?
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:13 AM
 
Location: NNJ
13,326 posts, read 7,576,633 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlygal View Post
People are hired because of what they bring to the table. Not what they can learn. It is not outrageous to expect a new employee to bring their existing skills and knowledge to the new job, make an assessment, and then determine what gaps they need to fill for themselves.

If a company hires a developer with SQL listed on their resume, should an employer have to teach them how to write an inquiry?
I would have to disagree. We specifically look for signs that the person has the ability to learn which is far more difficult to interview for. Of course, pre-existing tech-knowledge and in particular domain experience is always valuable. However, I don't want an employee that is so shoe-horned into a particular technology and role that they are lost once a challenge is presented that takes them out of their "comfort zone".

I for one have worked in IT, phone support, QA, customer post sales engineering, development (persistence, api), UI development, and now manage a development group. The reason why I survived decades with a handful of companies is because I have demonstrated that I can work a variety of roles even outside of my comfort zone.

Of course if a company needs an SQL developer they should know SQL. Its a foot in the door requirement. However do you think if their SQL experience is with online commerce do you think they should be sink or swim moment when suddenly in the domain of financials?

I went from development to development managing recently with zero management experience (a little as a tech lead). The more experienced managers were more than supportive in my transition and mentoring. Sink and swim in this transition would have meant major mistakes, mishaps, and probably adoption of bad practices.

Last edited by usayit; 04-13-2021 at 09:23 AM..
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:21 AM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
18,061 posts, read 18,738,203 times
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This type of onboarding is fairly common at some Silicon Valley startup companies. I’m personally not in favor of it.
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:44 AM
 
13,235 posts, read 11,130,437 times
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Maybe I don't understand. What do you mean by sink or swim? Also, in which role or industry.

A person starts a new job at 9 am on Monday. How does this sink or swim works?
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:08 AM
 
11,066 posts, read 19,939,986 times
Reputation: 22663
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlygal View Post
People are hired because of what they bring to the table. Not what they can learn. It is not outrageous to expect a new employee to bring their existing skills and knowledge to the new job, make an assessment, and then determine what gaps they need to fill for themselves.

If a company hires a developer with SQL listed on their resume, should an employer have to teach them how to write an inquiry?
I disagree with your thought of what successful onboarding and training looks like.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:23 AM
 
679 posts, read 342,453 times
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I agree with those that stated it is a sign of lazy and inept management.
I have seen too many cases where the wrong people are promoted into management.
Many are very qualified technicians/individual contributors but have no personal or management skills.
Others become managers so they can make more money and delegate down.
Both sets are poor leaders, managers and mentors.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:42 AM
 
13,235 posts, read 11,130,437 times
Reputation: 34912
Maybe I don't understand what you all are calling onboarding. Are you refering to blue collar type jobs or white collar office work?

I don't understand why it's a big deal to take responsibility, drive your own "onboarding" and get the info you need. Regardless of who drives the process, doesn't make sense to make sure you have what you need instead of waiting for someone else to give it to you.

I don't care if management is lazy. I care about getting what I need to be successful in the new job.
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