Onboard with Ease – What You Need To Know When Introducing a New Team Member

Every team has their own dynamics: the way the communication goes, the unspoken rules, team members’ relations and their personalities, the way work is done, etc. As a team leader, you probably know all of these but you need to be especially aware of the dynamics when a new person is about to join the team because this person doesn’t know any of it and assuming otherwise can lead to tricky situations.

If there is an HR in the company, s/he will be doing the initial, company-wise onboarding, but it is up to you as the team leader to onboard the new team member into your team. The first couple of days (or even longer) can be hard for the newbie because s/he is not familiar with the team ways so it is up to you to help him or her adjust to the team and feel comfortable with the new crew. Here are a couple of steps that may help with that.

ASK YOUR TEAM FOR HELP

As I mentioned, assuming that some of your team’s practices are just common sense can lead you to uncomfortable situations. In order to avoid that, ask your team to help you come up with a list of everyday practices that you may expect the new person to adjust to initially. These can include the communication rules, who the right person for certain questions is, certain habits a team member may have that others are used to but may seem strange to the new person, etc. You don’t have to read the list to the new hire, but it’s good to have it all in mind when bringing the new person up to speed.

Also, ask your team to be patient and not assume anything either. Remind them of how they felt when they first came in because the new person may feel similarly.

Finally, if you’re not the one who’ll be doing the job training for the new person, then talk to the team member who will be doing it and agree on what each of you will talk about so that you get all the basics covered.

GET TO KNOW THE NEW PERSON

The more you work together, the easier it will get, but in order to bring the new team member up to speed, it is very beneficial for you to know where s/he is coming from. Have a chat with him or her, ask about his or her previous experience, try to find out how much s/he knows about the job position and what the expectations or even concerns are. All these will help you set the base for the job training and how to bring about the existing team dynamics. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to guide the new team member through the adjustment process.

AVOID SPECIAL TREATMENT

If possible, treat the new person just like any other team member from the very beginning, like s/he has been there for a very long time. This has always worked for me. The new person might be confused at first, but s/he will appreciate it more than you know it because s/he will feel like a part of the team from the very beginning and that will enormously help the transition and adjustment.

A word of caution here: if the person does not feel comfortable with the treatment, then you need to talk. You shouldn’t be forcing anything so if there’s more harm to it than good, by no means should you proceed the same way.

MAKE SURE TO CHECK IN

New beginnings are hard, so make sure you check on the new person regularly. Just a simple “how are you doing today?” or “how can I help today?” will do the trick. Regardless of whether the person is a junior or senior, s/he is new to the team and the way work is done in your company so make sure to be there for him or her.

This should be your standard practice for every team member, no matter how long they’ve been in your team, but it is super important for the new person. It’ll take just a bit of your time, but it’ll mean a lot to the new guy or girl.

HAVE A FIRST-MONTH ONE-ON-ONE

After the first month, schedule a one-on-one with the new person. This may be a standard practice for the HR to do, but I like to do it as well. It helps me understand what I need to work on more and what’s been done well. In addition to that, it creates a stronger bond between you and your team because it shows them that you care about them, not just about getting the job done.

Keep in mind that you should do this regardless of whether you’re doing the person’s training or not. This one-on-one should not be about the job only. You should ask about feelings, expectations, communication, anything that happens on a daily basis in addition to work. People who feel appreciated tend to be more motivated and this one-on-one helps you set a strong foundation for all future work.

Being the new person can be difficult and challenging and it is your job as the team leader to get the pressure off the new person’s shoulders as much as you can and make him or her feel welcome. Creating that safe zone from the very first day will set you off into the right direction for all future endeavors and it will create a positive atmosphere for work and play not just for the newbie but for the entire team as well.

If you’re just starting as a team leader, these steps could be very beneficial to establishing the team dynamics to want. It takes time and practice so don’t worry too much about it. What matters is being honest and open-minded when it comes to your team and things will just fall into their own place with time.

If you’ve been doing this for a while, what other onboarding tips would you add? Feel free to comment and share and I’ll be happy to add them to the list.

Until the next article, keep learning and growing.

Sneza

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