A newcomer on board – concerns or wind in the sails?

A new person in the company’s structure, regardless of whether it’s a project or a team, always arouses emotions, not only in the person concerned but also in the leader and recruiters. A newcomer on board is a harbinger of changes that the company needs at some stage in its development. And of course, when looking for a new employee, the HR team tries to select the best candidate to meet the company’s vision and mission. But what does the arrival of a new person really mean? And what are some good things we can expect from the changes the newcomer brings from the first day?

A new person in the team from the HR perspective  

Let’s start with the themes related to the recruitment process of a new employee. If the company wants to develop, enrich its structures with an experienced, enthusiastic person, and at the same time, stands for fulfilling business plans, it is worth bearing in mind what a new person in the team can potentially introduce to it. According to our HR team, apart from obvious talents and experience, regardless of the educational background, we are diving real pearls among the sent applications. ‘For us, it’s important to extract a set of values that we appreciate in the company. The organizational culture is somewhat the core of the business’s existence. So we’re looking for people for whom additional activities beyond the scope and the development of both the organization and themselves are paramount values’ – admits Aleksandra Bury, head of the HR department at Synergy Codes. 

The perfect candidate for difficult times 

Without any doubt, the recent months have been quite a challenge for many companies, not only in terms of trying to stay in the business but also the willingness to develop, despite lockdown due to Covid-19. Getting over the crisis with a dry foot is primarily the result of employing appropriate specialists who can fulfill not only basic duties with commitment but also successfully set new goals. ‘The person who enriched our organization is Dawid Perdek, who perfectly coped with the adaptation to the company and organizational culture. Putting the duties into his hands and enabling him to act according to own patterns is the secret of success not only of the company but also of himself as an independent specialist’ – admitted Magda Kustosz, a recruiter at Synergy Codes. Anyway, cultivating the organizational culture would not take place if not for the values ​​such as atmosphere, relationships, and loyalty that weren’t shared by the CEO. Enabling employees to take over initiatives influences the overall development of the company, as evidenced by Dawid’s contribution to our team. 

How did the story start?  

A new member of the team not only awakens the imaginations of colleagues but can also significantly modify the existing working methods. After starting work for Synergy Codes, Dawid was assigned to the team consisting of three other developers and one QA. His first weeks were filled with an introduction to the tasks, but he was also told to participate in important for the team meetings. Scrum Events was a first chance to meet the existing approach to, what he believes, the most valuable ceremony of Scrum – a retrospective. 

First encounter to the standard way  

The retrospective was done in the standard way. There were three columns marked: Start, Stop, Keep, each one answering one specific questions: what should we start doing, what should we stop doing and what should we keep doing. This approach is great for the beginning, but more experienced teams often fall into a trap of inflexible columns. Thus people start struggling to make their observations to fit one of the columns. What’s even worse, there’s no room for expressing emotions. Dawid noticed their pain and decided to take some action. 

‘Since I have wide experience with different approaches to the retrospective, I offered my help with facilitating the next meeting. My Team Leader was strongly encouraging me to spend some time seeking the right tool.’ – he said. 

A new perspective  

Dawid proposed starting with the Weather Graph. It’s a quick introduction game that is supposed to get people into, what it’s called ‘retro mood’. 

It’s good to go through Action Items from last Sprint and current Sprint Board before starting the exercise to refresh memory. When all names are on the board, each team member has a minute to explain the items shortly, without details. It’s rather for general understanding. Then we go to the main part. 

The team spends up to 15 minutes to place as many cards as they want on board. They have full freedom to write something unrelated to work if they think it affected them even a little bit. That’s the best part of this approach – you don’t have to answer one of three questions with each card. Just write whatever is in your head and put it on the board wherever you think it belongs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big pain providing some gain to a company or a pleasant and profitable action. However, it may also be painful and bring loss – that’s probably where we start looking for action items later. Two team members may place the same card in different parts of the board and that’s ok! Further discussion will take place before moving on. The next step is all about grouping by the facilitator with the help of the Team and voting (5 votes/person) 

Hints: example groups: problems with estimates, meetings, workload. Important note: not every card has to be grouped, the goal is to make the board more readable and easier to come up with action items. 

Retrospective ends with creating Action Items from the most voted to the least voted card or group.

Spreading good practices 

Once the whole team liked the presented kind of the retrospective, its goal has been met. ‘After a couple of sprints, we were able to notice progress in terms of a common understanding of the project’s goals and obstacles’ – Dawid admitted. Additionally, the retrospectives are fun again! It’s a great idea that has spread across the company, so other teams could try it. Dawid was the one who conducted retrospectives for them and got involved in Software Development Guild where he helps standardize the way Scrum is done at Synergy Codes. 

All above actions and engagement was noticed by his Team Leader. Thanks to the new retro method implemented by Dawid, the team’s engagement in the meeting has risen. Now we are aware of other conditions and know how to work better as a team to maximize delivered value. Action items we create now are meaningful and increase team speed by a lot. 

A newbie in an organization always arouses curiosity. Due to getting to know each other, learning, and taking on new roles, the freshman is often observed not only by the leader but also by other employees. For Synergy Codes, a new person in the team is always a great challenge and an additional source of knowledge and experience that can positively affect the development of the entire organization.