Your team’s culture is it’s life-blood, its soul. It’s who you are and how you interact as a group. If it’s a good one, your culture can directly contribute to increased employee engagement, rising productivity and decreased turnover.
But if you are not careful, from the very first day someone new joins your team, you have several good opportunities to torpedo the culture you were trying to grow without realizing it. Here are three good ways to sabotage team culture, and some better approaches you could use, just in case that’s not what you were trying to do.
Sabotage Tactic #1: Put Them Immediately to Work.
Introductions can happen later, there’s work to be done. Give them the task and have at it.
Or you could do this: Greet them personally the moment they walk in. Introduce them to the other members of the team right away. At the first opportunity, talk with them one-on-one, welcoming them to the team.
You should talk about what the team does and what you specifically expect from them. That’s important.
But be sure to also talk about how you expect team members to interact with each other, and with you. Talk about your team vision, and about the values that serve as guides for team behavior as they reach for that vision. Let them know it’s important, too.
Sabotage Tactic #2: Force Them to Forage.
When you were new, you had to find your own desk and chair, so why shouldn’t they? If they can find the stuff they need to survive, maybe they will make it on your team. If they can’t, maybe they shouldn’t be here in the first place.
Or you could do this: Make the physical welcome match the spoken one.
Have their work space ready for them – desk chair, office supplies, phone, tools – whatever it is they will need to do productive work, have it ready and waiting for them.
This simple act of foresight speaks volumes about how your team feels about working together, helping each other out, and thinking as a group instead of a bunch of individuals.
And when acts like these match the words you just said, it starts to build trust.
Sabotage Tactic #3: Leave Them to the Wolves.
It’s survival of the fittest, so leave them alone to fend for themselves. It won’t be long before you see if they will become predator, or prey.
Or you could do this: Assign them a champion. Think about who on your team best personifies the values and culture you are trying to promote. Ask that person to sponsor the new teammate for the next two weeks.
They should check in with the new person several times a day. They can answer questions, explain procedures, show them around, and get them introduced. Assigning a buddy to them to help them get started can take a lot of the fear and nervousness out of the process, and make it easier and faster for them to “get up to speed.”
And in the process of their interaction, your “champion” is imprinting the new person with team values and culture. Their presence is telling them, “This is how we interact with each other; this is the way we function as a team.”
You wouldn’t leave your kid to the care of a baby sitter that you didn’t trust, would you? Same idea applies here. Put them in the hands of of people who will be a positive influence.
Ways to Sabotage Team Culture – The Takeaway
Building team culture is not a one-event thing. It’s something that happens in all the interactions among the people on your team every day. But the moment when those interactions can have the greatest impact is when someone is new.
If you are trying to establish a strong, positive cultural climate, start by focusing on what happens when someone new joins the team.
Welcome them warmly, show them around, talk about team values and the expectations team members have for each other.
Build a little trust by having a place ready and waiting for them; that simple act serves as evidence that your team approach is more than lofty words.
And team them up with one of your champions to help them get oriented, and to personify and imprint team values on the new person.
It’s much easier to keep a ship going in the same direction than to change it’s course. So do these things to get each new teammate headed in the right direction on day one.
Question: How else have you seen culture derailed on day one? What could you do to counteract it?
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