Integrating a New Team Member

happy-customersOne of the hardest things to do is accept a new team member- whether they are a new hire, a veteran of the company moved to your team, or a third party vendor/consultant. Most people’s natural reaction is to be cordial but guarded. The new person’s reaction is to try to impress. This leaves for some awkward conversations or worse silences as people are trying to feel out their turf.

As a leader, this puts you in a tough situation. You need to work to integrate a new team member, get their work up to speed, put your new team at ease, and start the trust building. But how do you do this without causing noise in the system?

  1. Temper the expectations of the new team member. While you are naturally excited to have a new person who brings new skills and perspectives to your team, do not make this person seem like “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh”. Your current team will immediately resent that person.
  2. Give your new member simple tasks that will build their credibility. Getting tasks done on time and correctly will show your current team that this person can be relied upon. Trust is simply the expectation of getting things done when they are supposed to.
  3. Do not rehash the entire project for the benefit of the new person at each meeting. This wastes the time of your current team and may make them worry why you need to repeat the project to this person time and time again. Take the time to get the person up to speed in a small group. This way everyone’s time is maximized.
  4. Assign the new team member a mentor. This person will be able to vouch for the new member’s value to the team. Personal recommendations go a long way in helping build team.
  5. Do not compare your current team to the new person. “Why can’t you be more like …” is a sure way to get the team to hate them.

Getting your new team member integrated is an important role for a leader. Do not “just let it happen”. Be proactive and you will be surprised at how well it will go.

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