It's Too Hard to Bring New People Into the Organization


A number of my clients and colleagues are struggling with the problem of bringing people into their organizations. In Hiring the Best …, I recommend the buddy system for bring people on. I wrote a little article, How2 Create a Buddy (Informal Mentoring) Program.

But maybe you didn’t know that, or can’t figure out how to make the buddy system work. That was the case in a recent conversation I had with a colleague. He’s working for an organization that has a heavy emphasis on finishing the product that brings in revenue. They have no unit tests, no smoke tests, no automated regression tests. They’ve hired a bunch of new people to work on the next release, but all the experienced people are on the old product, finishing the release to generate revenue. He said, “No one has time to spare for the new people.”

So, to spare people from interruptions, he’d thought of a technical idea: develop a static code analysis tool, and derive a functional spec from the code. I suppose that’s possible, but I have doubts as to how that will actually work. In my experience, people need to talk to other people. Reverse engineering small pieces of code is ok, but not large pieces.

Using the Rule of Three (need three alternatives), I suggested he had other alternatives rather than just a technical solution. He could ask people to pair with each other, so that they learn as they develop. (Even if the new people were pairing, they’d be better off. The best was to pair an experienced developer with a new developer.) He’d get technical review along with people learning all the pieces the system (the project management alternative). He could still ask people to buddy with each other, but limit the buddying to one person each week with one other person (the management solution).

I don’t know what he’s decided to do, but I hope he considers more than the technical solution. In this organization, having people work alone is not helping. The more people work together, the more likely they will be able to release something.</>

Labels: buddy, project team, rule of three

2 Replies to “It's Too Hard to Bring New People Into the Organization”

  1. If it’s hard to bring people in to an organization, that’s often an indicator that something else is going on. Why is this hard? Are we insular? Well, that seems an unnecessary burden. Are we laden with folklore, needed to get any job done? Well, that seems to present a scaling issue at least. Do we just not like change? Bodes ill for the long-term performance, and eventually survivalof the organization.
    More than something to fix, this seems like an indicator to me. Something else to go fix, and when you get that fixed, bringing people in will likely get easier as well.

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