Integrating a New Person into an Existing Team - 5 Tips for Managers
A Time of Uncertainty
No matter how well you may have recruited, and how sure you are your new employee will take to their role well, there is always a period of unease and transition when a new person joins an existing well-functioning team. For the first month, both the new persona nd the existing teams will be in a state of negotiation- of getting to know the new person and finding ways for them to fit into the group, and ways the group will adapt and change due to a new addition.
Below are a few ways to make sure that both the new person and the team feel positive in this period of change, and to make the integration period as smooth and as happy as possible for the workplace.
Prepare Your Team
Before the new person starts, discuss with your team their duties and what they will need to learn to do. A good idea is to create a work plan for the new person as they 'settle in'- start with a few small tasks to learn on their fire week and then progress on to the rest of their duties as the weeks progress and they learn more about their environment and role.
Once you have devised a plan, allow your team to have input into the process, ask them for their opinons on
- What is important for the person to learn first?
- Which duties will take longer or require more instruction?
- Is there any additional training that will be required? If so, discuss who will undertake this and timetable the training session in advance.
For each of the tasks the new person will need to learn, assign a member of the team to sit with them and teach or mentor them as they learn new software or ways of working. If your team is particularly under pressure, ensure that this is not just left to one person (usually this will be the person who can ill afford to spend the time, but hates to say no), but that the different sessions are spread out amongst the team. Not only does this ease the additional training workload on your existing team, but it will allow your new person to spend an equal amount of time with each person, allowing better opportunities to get to know each other and integration.
Write Off Day One
For most people, the first day of the new job will be a series of basic inductions and introductions. They will be excited, nervous and eager, but also will need to get to grips with the most basic information: the layout of the office, fire regulations, the general feel of the organisation, the ettiquett particular to the new office (which may be different from their previous position). Most managers will never plan anything too taxing for someone on their first day, however, it would be wise, too, to write off at least half of the day for the rest of the team too.
They will be able to make the new person feel welcome, if they feel they have the time to do so, rather than feeling as if every minute they spend with the new person is causing a backlog in their own workload. Let your team know they have time to talk, to step away from their usual industriousness in the name of welcoming and getting to know the new team player- in the long run, the team's productivity will recover more quickly, if the new person is given plenty of time at the beginning to settle in and learn from the more senior members of the group from the beginning.
As a manager, a new person might be nervous to approach you to ask questions which they know might be basic or evident to anyone who has worked longer. From day one it is important to make your own rapport with your team member, not just rely on the rest of the team to do so. Make yourself visible in the office and make sure both your new and existing team know they can come to you with any questions or queries. Try to spend time with your newest team member and be involved in teaching them some of the skills they will need to learn in order to function efficiently. This will go a long way in making them feel comfortable in the office environment, and will also help your existing team to learn how to do the same.
Accept Mistakes Positively
Anyone will make mistakes as they learn something new, it is a natural part of the learning process. Having a more senior team member mentor the new person through each task will cut down on many mistakes, as they will be there to check their work and correct any issues, but they might not always catch everything.
If a mistake occurs, address it with the new person in a sympathetic and productive way. Depending on their personality, you should tailor how you behave towards them to reflect that so, for example, if they are prone to beating themselves up and perfectionism, they may require consoling, rather than condemning!
The way you address mistakes with your new team member will also reflect upon how your team deals with them when they catch errors, so it is important to take all mistakes as part of the learning process and use them positively.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
It can often be hard for a new person and for those teaching them to see their own progression, there can feel so much to learn and so many things they need to learn to do that it is hard for them to feel pleased at what will seem like comparitavely small achievements.
Praise your new person and point out to them, after a few weeks, how much they have learned (even though they will undoubtedly still have a lot still to learn), and also praise your team for teaching them. Make the rest of the team aware you have noticed and appreciated all and any efforts to get to know the new staff member and to help them.
With a positive attitude from their manager, any team should be able to integrate a new member smoothly and cheerfully. Work place teams are constantly changing, there are always people leaving and new people beginning, the challenge for a manager is not to ensure that the team stays the same, but that any changes that occur are embraced both in the business and in the team's human element.