I was this month in Berlin at the NHL match between the LA Kings and the Buffalo Sables. Half an hour before the game you could watch both teams doing a warm up session (see photo). They practice the techniques, moves and collaboration which they will use during the game.
After the match I asked myself, how do we do a warm up? How were we introduced into the development environment of our current employer? After how many hours or days had we have to be productive? Fortunately I realized this gap already and I developed a training kit for a duration of a month for new employees for my current employer.
I recognized that the learning curve is quite steep for new employees and so it is a risk for the company to give them immediately productive tasks. Therefore I developed a training program for a duration of a month – the warm-up. During this training the new employees learn the following:
- Infrastructure of the company
- Frameworks and tools
- Responsible persons for the framework and tools
- Guidelines and good practices (not best practices)
- Realize software with the frameworks and tools based on uniformed requirements
Before the main part of the training starts there a two days of school where I teach them in traditional manner the architecture, the framework and the workflow component.
The main part is the development of a little insurance application with the same tools, frameworks and libraries which the new employee has to use also in the production environment. For this little application I developed the requirements and also a guideline for the responsible person to teach the new employee. I also implemented the application as a reference solution.
The insurance application itself is designed that the first tasks are easier than the last ones. This way gives the new employee constantly success experiences and he will be motivated to go on and have fun with the whole development environment.
And yes, having fun is important to be motivated. Working doesn’t mean that it isn’t allowed to have fun.
Teaching and documentation aren’t enough
There are several slides for the two school days and there are two papers for the school-application as well. Even for the whole framework exist a lot of paper. But this stuff is more or less useless if the new employee hasn’t anybody who is there for him or her. As in agile practices, feedback is the most important thing. Only the contact person, who is responsible for the education, can give the exact feedback which the new employee need. This because the responsible person knows where the new employee currently stays and what the context is.
We had already several new employees which did the warm-up successfully. The feedback of the new employees was also very positive because they could learn the whole development environment in a protected manner and try out things without any risk.