Joining the Team: What the New Guy Won’t Tell You

We’ve all been there, but it’s funny how quickly we can forget the “New Guy” experience.  Yet how you bring a new person onto the team will have a lot to do with how long they stay, and how productive they’ll be.  Here are four things that the new guy won’t tell you, and what you can do about it so the new person quickly becomes a productive, long term member of your team.

Think back to your first day of school.  You were probably feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. You maybe didn’t know anybody, you had to sort out your schedule, figure out where classes were, locate your locker, decide where to sit.  Everything is new – you don’t know all the rules or how people do things or where stuff is kept.

What They Won’t Tell You

It’s the same way for anyone joining a team for the first time.  Those first critical days can make or break how well someone new integrates into your group. Here are four things they are feeling but maybe won’t tell you:

  1. They are excited, nervous and feel awkward.
  2. They don’t want to look stupid.
  3. They want to contribute.
  4. They want to be sure that they are joining the right team.

What the Leader Does

With these things in mind, with a little forethought, you can come up with a plan that will make the new person feel like a contributing member of the team early on.  Here’s how:

 1. Make them feel comfortable.

•  Welcome them warmly the minute they in. Use their name, shake hand hand, act glad to see them.

•  Buddy them up with a respected teammate who will guide them around for the next several days and show him the ropes

•  Have a place for them to sit all ready to go, so they have a “home”

•  Make it official – at the next opportunity be sure to officially and publically welcome them to the team

2. Tell them what they need to know. Don’t overwhelm them, but early in the day sit them down and tell them what your team is about and your expectations.  These might be things like:

•  What to wear, time and place of key events like meetings

•  Key rules of the road like how to communicate, standards of conduct, and specific duties they will have

•  Who to turn to when they have a question – how to get help

•  Do this yourself – as the leader, you need to be the one giving them a clear sense of the standards and expectations you have for the team

3. Put them to work. Look for ways for them to show their worth or contribute value to the team as soon as possible

•  Give them a simple short-term assignment that they will succeed at

•  Give them an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge on a certain topic

•  Get them started on a training program that will get them up to speed as soon as possible

4. Show them the way ahead.

•  Ask about their goals and look for ways to align them with team goals

•  Outline their next steps and set milestones with them so they see the way ahead

•  Follow up and provide plenty of positive feedback; ask how they are doing and really listen to their answers.

Joining the Team:  The Takeaway

Joining a new team is hard.  It’s awkward and uncomfortable being the new guy.  Good leaders go out of their way to welcome the new person warmly, connect them with other members of the team right away, and get them contributing as soon as possible.

Good #leaders go out of their way to welcome the new person well. Click To Tweet

When you take the time to do these things right, you will gain a dedicated, productive teammate who will soon be helping your group achieve it’s goals.

For more leadership tips and resources be sure to check out all that’s available over at RapidStart

Good luck, and thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time.

Question:  Last time you were the “new guy” joining the team, what had the most impact on making you feel welcome (or unwelcome)?

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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