Onboarding Buddy

How to be a great Onboarding Buddy

Every new team-member will have on onboarding buddy smooth onboarding process. The onboarding buddy should work in the [almost] same timezone as the new team member.

We have an "Onboarding Buddy playbook" in our Dropbox folder that you should read and follow in order to create the ultimate onboarding experience for a new team member (in addition to all the resources on “Onboarding & Company Culture Course” you should be enrolled to).

Your main work as an Onboarding Buddy is to help the new team member feel welcome, not to lose track, and finally get his feedback and transform it into actions like:

  • Update documentation
  • Create issues (e.g. Make dev env works with latest version of XYZ)
  • Make a proposal to optimize onboarding process
  • etc.

Expectations and duties

It’s not the job of an onboarding buddy to ~teach~, although you might end up doing a little bit of that. Your role is to guide and inspire with your enthusiasm.

So while there’s an element of teaching to onboarding, the skills an onboarding buddy needs are different to those of a teacher. You need to be an attentive listener, and you need to have enough practical experience to be able to give your buddy the right advice at the right time.

Set expectations: Communicate your expectations in a simple and direct manner. Clarify expected roles, processes and outcomes. Ensure your buddy understands your expectations and feels motivated to fill them.


First day

  1. Ensure that your buddy has read all onboarding documents.
  2. Ensure that your buddy has all accounts/permissions for our and 3rd party services (see Tools and Services checklist).
  3. Ensure that your buddy has 🔒 properly installed developer environment (opens new window).
  4. Arrange end-of-day meetings with your buddy with a specified agenda to get maximum feedback. The meeting should happen at the end of each day during the first week. Why: It will help your buddy understand if they are doing things at the right pace and focusing on the correct tasks, as well as receive clear instructions, advice and constructive criticism to help them improve.
  5. Start changing code: Prepare 3-10 tasks for smooth entry into the project. Examples:
    1. Write tests for feature X (the goal is to introduce feature X, introduce out tools and workflows (GitHub, git, CI))
    2. Pickup and fix any bug from our automated bug-report systems (New Relic, Bugsnag, etc.) (goal: introduce tools, fix a bug)
    3. Review a Pull Request (goal: introduce our Pull Request flow and a new piece of code).

First week

  1. Ensure that your buddy has a plan to read developer and general literature and materials from our shared folders (50/50 mix of general/developer literature).
  2. Ask for a summary feedback for the first week.

First month

  1. Ensure that you got maximum feedback from your buddy and transformed it into actions.

In a month: finish mentoring

Evaluate developer onboarding process: Now you need to evaluate the developer onboarding process to make sure that everything is up to scratch.

When evaluating the process, here are some example questions you could answer:

  1. Do we make our new hires feel welcome?
  2. Do we inspire pride?
  3. Do we connect them with the big picture?
  4. Do we show them how much they matter?
  5. Are we offloading as much information as we can into our shared folders?
  6. Do we make it easy for new hires to get the information they need?
  7. Do we make it easy for new hires to tell us how they’re doing? And how we’re doing?
  8. Do we have an effective mentoring program?

Checklist for Tools and Services

This is a list of tools and services that a new member should have access to: