During this past year our development teams have grown rapidly. It is generally known that the first days in a new company have a great influence on whether the new team member feels comfortable and can tap his or her full potential. Due to the constant growth of the team, it was clear that in order to guarantee successfully operating development teams and to avoid early fluctuations, onboarding measures were necessary. Within our team, we maintain a very relaxed approach. A rigid onboarding process based on a checklist therefore seemed completely unsuitable to adequately reflect our corporate culture.

We sat down together and defined three golden rules at citema, which our managers apply to make the start as pleasant as possible for the new joiners and themselves, and to keep teamwork transparent, efficient and inspired.


Create room for questions.

Everyone has experienced it – The first day in a new company can be exhausting. A lot of first impressions hit you and you try to sort and categorize them and all your questions. Therefore, the most important rule for us: Plan a time buffer, do not confront the onboardee with too much information on the first day. Project and company-specific facts must be explained in great detail, but “in small chunks”. Create room for questions and communicate it. Collaboration only works if everyone in the team knows that asking questions is legitimate and important, and that mistakes or problems can be discussed openly.


Get to know the onboardee.

Everyone new to the team brings different skills and knowledge and enriches the team in their own way. Our experience has shown that a structured but individualized onboarding is the most successful way to integrate new team members into our company and our development teams in a targeted manner. In order to neither over- nor under-challenge the onboardee, but also to avoid unnecessary effort, the respective project manager schedules a time slot on the first day to find out the new colleague’s previous knowledge beyond the application process and adjusts the onboarding depth of the individual topics according to the project-specific requirements. Someone who has never worked with the IntelliJ integrated development environment (IDE), for example, will receive additional support in their first steps. For a specifically experienced IntelliJ user, on the other hand, it is sufficient to explain the given, project-specific rules of use to him.


Avoid operational blindness.

When explaining project- or company-specific facts to new colleagues, we intensively guard against one’s own operational blindness. Just because the processes and interrelationships in the project are as clear as day to you and seem logical, this is by no means the case for other team members. The new team member’s fresh, external view of the company’s internal procedures and processes also offers a great opportunity to take stock. Asking for feedback is the key to continuously improving your onboarding process.


Contribution: Philipp, sub-project manager, citema GmbH

With these three rules to onboarding success – our subproject manager Philipp applies them in his team. For more than a year, he and his Java software developer team have been developing complex systems in the field of radiolocation.