Blog: news and views from the Zingers

The First 50 Days

There is no denying the stress that coincides with the first days, weeks and even months of starting a new job. Micheal Watkins, in his book ‘The First 90 Days’, attempts to execute the paradox behind the first 90 days of being employed in a new workplace. Watkins provides a theory that in the first 90 days of starting a role, the newly employed member of staff is arguably a ‘retractor’ to the organisation. 

Watkins explains that within this time period it’s doubtful you are adding value to the business, asking more questions than you are answering and making more mistakes than you are solving. Although, arguably pessimistic, it is inevitable that you will make mistakes, ask a lot of questions and take up time trying to learn.

With ‘The First 90 Days’ as fundamental inspiration, we decided to follow the journey of one of our new Zingers, Stefan Crowhurst. Stefan is currently a University student undertaking a Placement year as part of his degree , he joined Zing around 65 days ago but according to our Product Development Manager, “he’s been useful for about 50 out of the 65 days of being employed!” In all seriousness, Stefan’s progress within Zing has been significantly rapid, and less than three months into his new role he’s very much an essential member of the team. Furthermore, we decided to incorporate Watkin’s theory of the First 90 Days to document the first 50 days of Stefan’s journey so far at Zing. The four main features which has shaped Stefan’s employability journey so far are as follows:

 

1. Static vs Agile Development

As previously stated in our blog, ‘3 Reasons why Zing use Scrum’, Zing operates an Agile development process to completing projects. It is an underpinning element in the culture of the company, so it’s essential that all Zingers understand the Agile process. It’s predominantly different to the way in which Stefan has approached development projects before and therefore he’s had to adapt to this in his first few weeks of working. Having now fully adapted to this method, Stefan now understands the fundamental benefits of Agile development: flexibility, efficiency and adaptability.

A crucial element of working in Scrum, is completing task in sprints. Which again, Stefan had no prior experience with. It took him a few attempts to get into the swing of working in sprints, however after the first few were complete it was more clear what is expected of him at Zing. He now finds working in sprints an ideal method in managing a large workload, resulting in reduced stress amongst the team. Stefan also emphasizes the importance of team dynamic when completing tasks – one person is not responsible for a certain aspect of a project, tasks are built upon work that of others.

 

2. New technologies

In the first 50 days of Stefan being employed, he has learnt a remarkably wide variety of new technologies. Previously, Stefan only had experience with local programmes such as Java, VBA, Python, but now has expanded his knowledge base into cloud-based software such as JavaScript (Vue.js, react), HTML, CSS and Twilio Flex. He is now confidently working with Microsoft Cloud Azure on a daily basis, with no previous knowledge to support this. Generally, his main job role focuses on front-end development and he plans to gain more experience in this area as he continues his career as a developer. Since joining Zing only 50 days ago, his confidence grows daily, expanding his knowledge into new technologies and developing more and more projects which he can add to add to his portfolio of work.

 

3. Adopting the Culture

Culture is an ongoing discussion topic for many industries. Creating the right culture provides the right environment for a motivated and productive workforce. Before starting at Zing, Stefan had limited experience working in a corporate environment so he was unsure of what to expect. He was assured by the ‘buddy’ system that Zing operate and found it very beneficial in his first few weeks of finding his feet. But first and foremost, it was the team-based environment that surprised him at most. Having spent two years at University with a very much independent workload, he was amazed by the strong team dynamic he found himself in at Zing. Projects are a collaboration of everyone’s work and not one person’s responsibility. New team members are assured by experienced employees about any uncertainties they may have, which is not something that is particularly present in a University setting. All in all, the culture that Stefan found himself in 50 days ago is impeccably different to the agile development team he is currently apart of.

 

4. Customers

Dealing with customers as a new employee is daunting for a variety of reasons. One, your knowledge about the company and products is probably limited. Two, you probably don’t know the policy around dealing with customers. And three, you’re probably nervous. Again, Stefan being a University student already puts him on the back foot when dealing with customers in a corporate environment. However, Zing is a little different than a typical corporate environment in this aspect. Developing Bespoke Enterprise Solutions means constant communication with customers is essential. The communication is more collaborative than anything, and for our Zingers it’s all about translating what customers want the software to do into technical terms. Working in short sprints enables developers to have constant communication with customers whilst they are building the product, to ensure it’s on track and it does what the customer wants it to do. Stefan has learnt a lot from liaising with customers, the main thing being – understanding what the customers want and how to achieve it, in a way to best utilise their time and budget.

Overall, it’s so pleasing to see young developer such a Stefan take opportunities to get so heavily involved in the running of an organisation. It’s fair to say the first 50 days of being employed at Zing, Stefan has had to adapt to certain aspects of the business but is now an important member of such a dynamic team.

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