“Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team.”–Patrick Lencioni, American business author.
Whether functioning as a team leader or a member, at some point in your career, you’ll help integrate new people into your work group. (← click to tweet) Boom cycles, personnel turnover and team expansion are common times. Team members get promoted, start their own new teams, or move on to other jobs, while newbies come aboard. While this process can be disruptive to everyone on the team, it’s also unavoidable. As with every business challenge, you can find ways handle this issue with a minimum of fuss, and even re-frame it as an opportunity.
If nothing else, integrating new people into your team shows upper management your strengths as a team player, and it provides you with challenges that stretch your abilities—the only real way to build new business muscles.
Before you take on the task of integrating newbies into your team, think back to the days when you first joined. You were probably unsure about how your new coworkers would treat you, worried about being accepted, and maybe even wondered if you could even do the job. Your new team members will feel the same way. Did your new manager just point at a desk and wish you luck, or did someone carefully teach and mentor you? While to some extent it’s the responsibility of the new hire to learn his or her job, the harder it is and the less help they have, the more likely they’ll fail. One study has found that up to 16% of new hires quit after the first week!
If a new hire fails, the whole team fails, because finding and hiring new a replacement costs money—money your team and organization can’t use for other things. So it makes sense to ease people into their new roles. If one of you old salts can show them the ropes, things will be shipshape in no time.
Consider these tips to help people “onboard” more easily. You’ll always have a lag time before they mesh with the veterans, but implementing these suggestions will make it easier for them.
1. Create an orientation procedure that brings people in, manages their first impressions, and takes care of the basics. It shouldn’t take long to issue people the necessary keycard/IDs, computers, passwords, equipment, and whatever else they need to do their jobs—if someone willingly takes them by the hand to do so. Often the company will have an orientation, but make sure to have one for the team as well.
2. Give them a few days to learn the system before piling on the work. Learning how email works, the new databases and systems, when and how often IT makes backups, what they have access to, where to link into the company intranet, who to talk to about various issues, etc. can take some time. Let people get settled before piling on a ton of work the first few days and overwhelming them. Often learning is best done by doing, using the procedures manual you created for them as a guide.
3. Assign a peer mentor to instruct the newbie in the team way. Every team does things a little differently in terms of workflow, reporting to the leader, handling conflict, reaching out to other teams, and all the other little tasks and events that make up a typical day. As mentor, explain things like the details of each task, what philosophies the new team member needs to embrace, what to avoid, where you keep the office supplies, and whatever else they need to know; stay ready and willing to answer lots of questions. If they don’t ask any, invite them. Patience is a virtue here! Everyone needs to know the lay of the land in plain terms.
4. Welcome them in. Have a full team meeting or lunch in which you introduce the newbies to the whole team or division. Have a company newsletter? Make sure they’re mentioned. Make them feel at home, so they’ll more easily integrate into the group and, ideally, become quickly engaged in their jobs. It can’t hurt for individual employees to ask them out to coffee, get to know them, and make them feel at ease. Help them acclimate to their new position and become a valued part of the team dynamic as fast as possible.
5. Keep them in the communications loop. Don’t forget your new people when discussing projects or passing around news. While it may be too late to engage them in a particular project, they’ll still need to know the basics—what it’s about, who’s working on it, when the milestones occur, and when it’s scheduled to complete. Include them in project postmortems so they can learn what everyone who participated learned. Some may still have something to contribute, no matter how late the date, if they’ve participated in something similar.
Same Team, New Faces
Everyone needs a little time to get their bearings in a new job, and they do it best when the rest of the team takes an interest in their well-being. Remember, the idea is to adopt them so thoroughly they work seamlessly with the rest of you, churning out a high level of productivity. Treat new workers as valued team members from the start, and that’s what they’ll more likely become.
Side note: New team members can be a big influence on your corporate culture, and may even be an opportunity for introducing some positive changes to less-than-ideal habits your team has developed. If you’d like to learn more, check out this video: Laura stack on corporate culture.
© 2017 Laura Stack.
About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:
Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email [email protected]
Here’s what others are saying:
“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas
“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff
“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.
“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland