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 Leadership.com

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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4 thoughts on “Joining the Team: What the New Guy Won’t Tell You”

  1. When I was a freshman in high school quite a few years back, I decided to join the soccer team. 75% of the team were seniors and had been on the team since freshman year. When I had made the team after tryouts I wasn’t welcomed with open arms. The first thing we did was scrimmage and I was put on the team opposite of the best players with big egos. After showing off my skills, humiliating them and scoring several times they were pretty butthurt. Theyre reaction wasn’t instantaneous and explosive, but rather slow and poisonous. They decided to tell everyone that I trash talk and play dirty. To this day I don’t understand why they’d do that, as I had told them that I respected them as players and simply wanted to play at my best and enjoy our teams chance at winning at the state level. If we weren’t at each other’s throats all the time we could’ve made it all the way. On multiple occasions they’d blow up at me for fouling them in practice accidentally or for making a bad pass in a game. The shit they gave me was unbelievable considering I never did anything to deserve it. I got oss multiple times for defending myself and after a while I got smart and just let them hit me and they got in trouble really bad. The second half of our season most of our players would get suspenfed including me so we couldnt win. That year we managed to lose every game when with the quality of our players we shouldve atleast qualified for the state competition. Oddly enough, although, seemingly being the center of all our teams problems, by the time I was a senior I was team captain. This was because we had the same coach the whole time I was there and he new I had experience dealing with shit that went on with new kids that played to “aggressive” (even though they dont cause real harm they play physical). I gave them the respect they deserved and if another team mate had a problem with it I made it clear that they shouldn’t take it personally. I know when I was a freshman and became competition for the other team members they took it quite personally. Probably didn’t help that I was dating the team captains little sister :/ (she was actually older than me) but if that made it worse but it certainly didn’t make it better. Pro tip; if the team has beef with you, don’t date their sister. Even weirder tho, I married her. I am now the brother in law of someone who hated me. Luckily were chill now and he realises that shit was stupid.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story! Instead of welcoming you and your talent to make the whole team better, it sounds like they were more concerned about their personal status – a sign of insecurity; they were focused on themselves andnot on the team. Glad you were able to rise above and use your experience to be a better leader for the new guys who joined the team while you were captain. Small things like that can make all the difference.

  2. Excellent advice. Tips one and two are fairly well known and generally used, but tip three is an extremely important , if often neglected step. A new team member will generally just observe for the first little bit and have nothing to do other than watch. Putting him to work boosts his confidence in himself and lets him know that he is an integral part of the team. Do use good judgement when assigning tasks, if you swamp him with work, or give him a task that he is not trained to do or prepared for, you can end his enthusiasm for being a part of the team and/or make him feel inadequate.

    1. I think it’s part of getting past that initial insecurity and moving quickly to a higher level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: belonging. When you give the person an opportunity to contribute or show value in some way they become more invested in the team and the team will more quickly accept him as a member. I did a brief video/blog about the hierarchy because it can be a good tool to guide a leader’s actions. Completely agree that you don’t want to overwhelm him, though, either! Thanks for the comment.

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