Nearsoft’s Illustrated New Employee Handbook (slides)

Nearsoft's Illustrated New Employee Handbook (slides)

Here is Nearsoft’s illustrated New Employee Handbook.

Welcome!

Welcome to the magic! We would like you to have an amazing and great time with our tribe.

You are about to meet a group of passionate people. We work together to follow a vision and accomplish the mission: making an impact on the world, create world-class software, do meaningful work, and grow as individuals.

In your first day you may feel awkward as you join a very different team and culture. Please be aware of this and write down how you feel about on your first few days. This will help us to improve and to create an even greater workplace for future employees.

We have created this document to help you integrate as fast and painlessly as possible with your new team. Learn our language and character; learn the non-written rules that our living culture has created.

Do not rush, take your time, we know that everyone has its own pace and we respect that.

Once again, welcome, keep reading, ask questions, and be happy!

Essentials

Before you start working, we ask you to read this document. It’s not very long and it will help you get integrated faster and more smoothly. If somebody tells you to start on a project, or have a conference with a client, do project estimation or anything else, please, DO NOT do it, even if that person appears to be a “boss” (Hint: we don’t have “bosses” at Nearsoft).

We need you to go through this document first and learn about your new company before representing us in front of a client.

Let’s start with the essentials in your new adventure.

Meet Everyone

UNSOLVED MYSTERIES

Find out more about these,

SENSEI
LOS ROBOTS
EL VIPI /VIPIO
LAS BUROS
LOS TRES LETRAS
WIKIPEDIA HUMANA
INNOVATION PARTNER
LAS CHOLAS
FILIDROP
MEDOS CONOCIDOS
DISCRIMING
LA PECERA DEL AMOR
STEVE JOBS
R1, R2, R3, R4
EL NIÑO
MIGNON
POWER ROOM
LAS RETAS
FELICES FIESTAS
REMOTEAN DO

Most likely, the recruiter who brought you into the company is going to be the person who also welcomes you on your first day at our office. (Hint: he’s not your manager, as we don’t have a “managerial elite” at Nearsoft).

If she doesn’t offer to do it right away, please ask this person to give you a tour and introduce you to everyone who is in the office at the time. Even if it happens to be a day when people are out of the office (e.g., a Holiday), make sure to get a tour anyway.

As you meet people, we recommend the following,

  1. Shake hands
  2. Give hugs
  3. Tell them your name or nickname
  4. Ask them about the stuff on their desks
  5. And, most importantly, BE HAPPY!

Choose Your Place

You can see that there are plenty of space in the office and very few enclosed offices. It is completely up to you to pick a place for your desk. It really is your choice. However, consider this,

  1. Is it close to your team?
  2. Is it close to your mentor?
  3. Is there enough space for your equipment?
  4. Does it have a good view?

We ultimately want you to be comfortable and happy the whole time.
Do not leave this for later. Go out there and pick your place now.

As for Your Equipment & Tools

Having the right equipment is very important and we want to make sure that you get it. This will be updated as technology changes, but as of the time of writing of this manual, this is what you should get,

  1. A laptop, i7 core duo and 8 GB of RAM and SSD
  2. An extra 19” monitor
  3. A dock station for your laptop
  4. A backpack for your laptop
  5. A desk
  6. An ergonomic chair
  7. A headset

If you need a sppecial mouse, trackball, or whathaveyou, be sure to ask for it. We won’t know you need it unless you tell us.

Make sure to get all of these items. If one of these is not available for whatever reason, then ask for a date by when you are going to get it. We want to make sure that you are well equipped to do a kickass job, but you are responsible for making sure that it all gets to you.

You’ll also need the following accounts,

  1. Nearsoft email account
  2. Skype account
  3. Yammer account
  4. PBWiki account
  5. Celoxis account
  6. Registration to the door’s finger scanner
  7. WiFi password
  8. Network account

Depending on the team, you may also need a VPN account and access to remote databases or tools.

Once you have all of this you’ll be almost ready to start working. But before you do, you’ll need to take a few classes.

Schedule Your Orientation Classes

You will receive tons of information on your first few days at the office and we have created some classes to make it easier to grasp all the stuff you need to learn.

These classes will help you minimize your learning curve. They will also get you started on a path of continuous learning.

Please, do not underestimate the amount of information you’ll have to absorb in a short time. Schedule and take these classes as soon as possible!

And Your Mentor Is …

When you join our team, you will have a mentor assigned to you. This is a teammate who will help you integrate into our culture quickly and smoothly. This means getting acquainted with our social norms, our software practices, and our values.

Your mentor will also be the person that you will go to ask about anything you need to know beyond what you’ll learn in the classes (you’ve scheduled those by now, right?).

People assigned as mentors have been at Nearsoft for at least a year and know our culture well. Take advantage of them and engage in great discussions.

If for some reason nobody tells you who your mentor is, ask. Ask your team. Ask your recruiter. Ask in Yammer. But ask and make sure to get this valuable resource working for you.

Your First Week

As we have mentioned before, we do not want you to write a single line of code or any test script or do any design during your first week at Nearsoft. We already know that you are capable of doing those things.

The most important thing during your first week is to learn, and start to live our culture. Start using our internal communication tools, like Skype and Yammer. Engage in conversations with the people in your team and in other teams. You will learn a lot about our company’s essence by doing this. Learning this will enable you to start adding value to the rest of us and to our clients sooner.

Read everything you can in our wiki. There are tons of stuff there that you’ll enjoy and that will help you understand.

And What about Our Tribe?

Nearsoft is a relaxed place. We are passionate about what we do. We are not here for a job,” but because we aspire to create great software products and have an impact on the world.

You should enjoy each and every day at the office. We do. If something is making you unhappy, raise your hand and expose it. Don’t wait for somebody else to bring it up. In the end, this will make things better for you and everybody else.

“Rules” to Live By

Here are some “rules” that have emerged over time.

Rule #1. We do not have a time checker—use your time as you think best. But, please, never leave anybody waiting for you. Punctuality is very important.

Rule #2. Books are for you. Take them home if you want to read them. But, please, return them when you are done. Others want to read them too.

Rule #3. Never take equipment from anyone. If it is not yours, it must be somebody else’s. If for whatever reason you need to use it, leave a post-it note or send an email or post it on Yammer. But let the person who depends on that equipment know that you have it.

Your Career at Nearsoft

New folks like yourself often wonder how to “get ahead” at Nearsoft. It’s confusing because we are not organized in a hierarchy.

The answer is a bit unorthodox as we are a very different organization from what you are probably familiar with.

We know that what follows is only a partial answer. Please, ask your mentor and others about anything not addressed here.

The Difference Between Growth and Development

It is important to differentiate between these two concepts.

Advancement is traditionally understood as the move up in an organizational ladder, from a lowly position to a more “executive” position. In this model, your title indicates how much you have “advanced” (“Honey, today I got promoted to Executive Garbage Collector.”)

At Nearsoft, development is the process where a professional like you develops his/her skills and maturity for both personal development and career growth.

At Nearsoft we have lots of development opportunities, but forget about “advancement.” We do not let a title define how far you can go or how important you are because of that.

Mastery Level

Although we do not have titles, we all have different mastery levels and this determines the role that each of us plays. However, and this is key, this mastery level does not define a line of command—we all have the same decision power. If you need to make a decision to reach one of our goals as a company, do it. Everyone will appreciate that.

Your skill level will determine your career path. Every level is determined by your expertise (i.e., not by years of service or any such) Ultimately, you want to be recognized as an industry expert.

Performance Evaluations

We encourage everyone to keep learning and never get trapped in a comfort zone. One way to do this is to ask for a performance evaluation.

At a performance review process you will receive very useful feedback about your performance and how well you fit culturally. This will help you improve your working relationships. It also provides you with a historical record of performance that you can use to raise the bar for yourself and accelerate your professional development.It is great to know where you are and what you need to do to become better and better every day,

More Rules to Live By

Rule #4. If you leave food on the refrigerator, leave it in a bag otherwise it is for anyone.

Rule #5. When using the kitchen or eating, please clean after yourself. Your mom is not around and you need to take care of your place.

Rule #6. Do you need a book and you can’t find it in the library? Ask for it. Books are free around here, (our budget for books seems to be infinite).

Internal Regulations

In some places they call these “company policies” or “company rules.” At Nearsoft, they are more like a framework to help us contribute to a culture of respect and friendship amongst us. Here are some of the most important things.

  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Be punctual (i.e., even a minute late is still late)
  • Plan your vacations at the beginning of the year (and let Yadira know)
  • When taking a PTO, let your team know, including your client, and send an email to [email protected] (if you’d like the rest of us to know, post a #pto on Yammer)
  • Take your vacation and Holidays and come back rested and happy
  • Come energized and passionate about what you are about to do

Read our wiki for more details.

Other Rules to Live By

Rule #7. Be yourself.

Rule #8. Always make new mistakes. Do not be afraid of talking, trying and failing. But learn from that.

Rule #9. Always make new mistakes. Do not be afraid of talking, trying and failing. But learn from that.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
         — Samuel Beckett

Empowerment, Nearsoft Style

Empowerment is the power you have to make decisions that lead us. Empowerment is something you bring with you. We don’t “give” it to you or “allow” you to use it. We do encourage you to use it to help create great results for ourselves, our clients, and the communities we are part of.

It really is up to you to help your team and the company to provide better results for our clients, to operate more efficiently and effectively, be more productive, and your work meaningful.

We empower ourselves regardless of title, length of service, or experience and trust you’ll do the ssame and help us become a great shining example for our industry.

Company Culture

At Nearsoft, our culture is one of our most important assets. It drives the company to success or failure. We have proved that this is true for us.

Culture has shaped the level of service we provide to our clients, the quality of people we hire, and our financial results.

Our culture is shaped by our values as we live them everyday. During your interview, we estimated that you would fit well because you are already living these values in some way, shape, or form. Now you have to prove us right.

Here is a brief explanation of our five core values. Discuss them with your team and others. Ask them for examples. This will make them more tangible to you.

Commitment

We walk our talk. When we commit to our clients or partners, we do what we say and never look for excuses for not doing it. We understand that committing generates expectations and we fulfill them.

Living up to your commitments does not mean that you have to be a hero (see Teamwork, below).

Leadership

We encourage and acknowledge natural leadership, not a title. Leadership to us is something that we are all capable of, if we have the courage to do it. Anyone can be a leader. You have always been empowered to be one, you don’t need anybody’s permission. At Nearsoft you are encouraged to practice your leadership whenever you see an opportunity or a need.

Long-Term Relationships

We look to create relationships for life.

We understand that doing “just enough” is not enough, and our relationships are more than a mere transaction.

We do anything possible to go beyond “the call of duty” with our clients, partners, and each other.

Smart and Gets Things Done

We understand that our clients expect us to have smart and expert people as part of their team. But that is not enough. We must also get things done and deliver. Always be looking for ways to deliver more, save time, eliminate useless work, and, in general, leverage ourselves.

If you can do it faster with a better tool, get it.

If you can improve the quality by virtue of changing our processes, change it.

And if you try and fail, don’t fret: now you know what not to do the next time around!

Teamwork

We do not believe in heroes, but in our collective intelligence. We know that together we can accomplish more than alone and we use our cumulative power to create great things.

If you find yourself stuck, talk about it with somebody. If nobody’s around, explain the problem to Aurora’s fuzzy bear. Half way through your explanation, you’ll figure out the issue yourself. If that doesn’t work, ask for help. But don’t stay stuck by yourself—this is a trap. Your teammates are more than happy to help you out.

Next time around, you’ll be there for them.

Yet More Rules to Live By

Rule #10. If for some reason you need to work from home or elsewhere, that’s fine. But, please, stay connected and available online (i.e., Skype) during your team’s working hours.

Rule #11. Parking space is a very scarce resource. You can park around the office but please respect the spaces of others and never block anyone.

Rule #12. If you have a family emergency, go take care of your family. Stay in touch and let us know how we can help.

Rule #13. Use appropriate words around the office. We all have heard the nasty words. They can be threatening and easily misinterpreted. Help us keep our office a gentler, fun place.

Rule #14. Be serious about your work, but don’t take yourself too seriously—enjoy life.

And Finally…

We hope that this document helps to take some of the edge off joining a new team, particularly one as “different” as ours.

If there’s something missing here that could help the next new employee a little bit more, please, let us know.

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