Contributing to Engineering culture as a new joiner

Jonathan PaulJonathan Paul


One of the things I love most about Lendable is how quickly new joiners get involved in making their teams and the organisation as a whole, better.

Joining a new company isn't easy. You need to learn a massive amount in a very short amount of time, no wonder so many of us suffer from Imposter Syndrome, something I think affects just about everyone to some extent. And while Imposter Syndrome is something we often talk about when it comes to graduates or junior developers, who are just beginning their careers and learning how to apply their skills and talents, it is a phenomenon which can affect even seniors employees.

You may have been extremely successful in your role at your previous company, but the moment you join a new company you are suddenly thrown into a whole new environment, with a new product, tools, and a bunch of team members all communicating at rapid speed in a whole new lexicon of obscure acronyms, and you can't help but wonder if you are ever going to catch up.

In this environment it is all you can do to just keep up with your new team members, how could you possibly begin to contribute to your team?

Fortunately this is something that our new joiners take in their stride. They aren't afraid of asking dumb questions. In fact, we often find that these are the most valuable questions to ask. When you have been looking at a problem from the inside for a while, you stop seeing the whole picture. A somewhat naive question can often be exactly what we need to find a better solution.

Our new joiners are also encouraged to make suggestions, early and often, something they take in stride. We believe that the best way to learn is not to just listen, but also to suggest yourself. Either you will be right, or you will learn something new!

Of course, making suggestions can often be tricky and sometimes even uncomfortable as you need to come in and start making suggestions about how the existing processes can be improved. Considering that you are commenting on all the hard work done by your new team members, this can sometimes feel like a hard thing to do.

It has really impressed me how quickly our new team-members feel that they are part of the team and start to contribute their ideas into making things better. Whether it is noticing that the build is a bit slow and seeing whether it can be optimised, or pointing out that we could be running our retros more efficiently or how we could update our coding standards, our new joiners haven't been afraid to try and change things for the better.

As a final note, from time to time when I hear people say "I don't want to criticise the way we does things", I always remind people that they were hired precisely because of their skills, experience and new perspective! We hire people who are going to challenge us, point out where we fall short and what we can do better. Rather than their criticism being an indictment of the work that we do, it is in fact a celebration of what a great job we have done in recognising our own weaknesses and our ability to hire fantastic people!

Of course, all of this takes work. Here are just a few tips I would give:


  • Make sure you create a environment that encourages the asking of "dumb questions". All it takes is one roll of the eyes to make sure that is the last time anyone sticks their necks out
  • Let all new joiners know that Imposter Syndrome is incredibly common, and where they can get support if they need it
  • Challenge new joiners to make suggestions early on, even in their first week! Just the act of engaging your brain as though the next big decision was up to you can make all the difference.
  • Create a Glossary of common terms. This can be invaluable to new joiners.

New Joiners

  • Meetings can be a bit overwhelming at first. Write down every new term that you hear and every question which pops into your head and follow up on them afterwards. Hopefully you will be directed to written documentation or a glossary explaining the answers. If not, perhaps it is worth documenting what you have learnt for the next new joiner?
  • Ask lots of questions, and;
  • Don't be afraid to make suggestions. You have a lot to offer in the first few months in your new role where you have a completely unique perspective. We all become part of the furniture shockingly fast!

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