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Last updated: 13 Jan 2022

How to be a good buddy

When a new joiner starts on GOV.UK, it’s good practice for the team they are joining to assign them a “buddy” to help them get started on GOV.UK, explain it’s infrastructure and provide initial support.

What is a buddy?

A buddy acts as a temporary guide for new joiners. It’s an informal role and their responsibilities include:

  • explaining how our stack works
  • pointing the new joiner to useful docs/slack channels/general resources
  • being on hand to answer specific questions
  • generally making them feel welcome

Ideally, a buddy will be in the same team and sit within the same function as the new joiner eg: a new frontend developer would have a frontend buddy.

How does a buddy differ from a line manager?

Line managers aren’t the same as buddies in that they…

  • might not always be on the same team or even the same programme
  • are focused more on personal stuff like objectives and working patterns
  • handle general admin and HR processes

Advice on being an effective buddy

  • Make sure that our new joiner documentation is up to date before they start
  • Schedule catchups with them in their first week or two, to talk through things like our stack and our tooling
  • Make them aware of our starter documentation such as our getting started guide
  • Check in semi-regularly to make it clear that you’re available if they need help with anything
  • Let your team know that you’re acting as a new joiner’s buddy so your capacity might be reduced
  • Consider having a handover discussion after the first month to check how the new joiner found onboarding, then feed that feedback into our general onboarding process

There’s no official end date for being a buddy. It is up to you and the new joiner to continue checking in for as long as you both feel it’s useful.