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Documentation Team Onboarding: Helping New Team Member Adapt

Posted by
Anastasia in TechComm Career Path on 10/17/20174 min read

Onboarding

Becoming part of a documentation team can be a challenge for a writer who is not experienced in this type of work, as it requires a new set of skills and a very specific writing style and approach. Even if you recruit a writer with prior experience in creating documentation and user guides, you still have to develop a smooth and efficient onboarding process to help them adapt to your organization as quickly as possible.

Recruitment: The Incipient Phase of the Onboarding Process

Best chances to get a compatible new member for your documentation team is to start the onboarding process even before you hire the candidate. You can do that by presenting your company and department and ask for feedback.

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Making the job requirements clear from the very beginning will save you a lot of time by filtering out candidates who are not interested or not fit for the position you are offering. Explain what your department does and give some examples from your everyday tasks and challenges.

There are certain requirements that you might want to mention in the job description, like the ones we covered in this article - 11 Skills of a Good Techwriter. This can also help you sort the people out.

New Hire: Where to Begin?

The first days as a new employee in a company are always busy with adapting to a new environment, getting to know your colleagues and figuring out where everything is. That is not the moment to absorb tons of information that will be quickly forgotten, but it does help to prepare some logistic aspects beforehand. Don’t lose time with finding a desk or office supplies. Instead, get everybody ready to receive the newcomer before they arrive and set the appropriate work conditions to start the training process as soon as possible.

Office

How to Make Life in a Documentation Team Easier

When the actual job starts, your new team member will need guidance. You have the skills and tools to put together onboarding documentation about the job itself. The tools you will use for this purpose and the manner in which you will present the documentation will depend a lot on the time you have and the amount of new information the new hire needs to take in.

Mentoring

Make sure that the new hire familiarizes himself with the help authoring tools as soon as possible since they are a primary instrument for the job. As a rule, modern HATs have an online documentation portal where all the important things are explained for a potential user.

If your online authoring tools don’t already have a documentation of their own, write a guide with the basic operations a team member must know. Use your daily experience to go through the most common tasks and present them shortly.

User guides are crucial for a potent and helpful knowledge base, both for your new hire and for the existing team members. Permanently updating them is paramount, as every company introduces changes in the production process from time to time. Take this opportunity to ask for feedback on the user guides you already have and improve when needed.

Online authoring is the most efficient way of centralizing your knowledge base and giving it a user-friendly interface. Your new team member will have a lot of questions in the beginning, and they should be able to find the answers by searching what they need in your online knowledge base. If the information is not there, the other team members will have to spend more time explaining the process.

That doesn’t mean that the onboarding should be exclusively done online. Helping your new team member adapt among other technical writers is best achieved by building a relationship and knowing each other. Mentoring can be the best way of welcoming and training your new hire. That will immensely speed up the process and help your company in the long term.

Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Online Technical Writing & Documentation Tools

 

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