It’s tough being the new guy. That’s true when you’re in grade school and it’s still true when you’re a grown-up: Coming into a new workplace environment—especially one with a tight-knit team dynamic—can be challenging, and more than a little daunting.
It’s not just hard for the new employee, though. Leaders and managers can sometimes face an uphill climb in grafting the new employee into the existing team culture. That’s not the employee’s fault. It’s just that it’s hard to step into a program that’s already been established; it’s hard to find your place when everyone else has already settled into their role.
So how do you help your new employees fit in? It takes a concentrated effort. Some basic suggestions:
- Start engaging the new employee early on, scheduling some group activities or some collaborative projects even on Day 1. Also—and I say this all the time, but it’s important—make collaboration implicit to all project assignments: Tell New Hire Bill that his job is to work with Claire and Dan on Project X, and tell Claire and Dan that their job is to work in tandem with Bill.
- Schedule some lunches, coffee breaks, or quick face-to-face meetings with more senior team members. Make these regular, especially at the beginning. Just give the new hire a chance to get to know you, to ask questions as needed, and to offer feedback. Use these meetings to assess the engagement process.
- In keeping with that last point, make sure you view onboarding as a two-way street. Always provide your new hire with a chance to express his or her opinions, and to let you know how things are going.
- Be explicit in communicating your values. What’s your company’s mission? What is its vision? How would you characterize its culture? You can’t just expect new hires to know these things; you must make them plain. This should be the centerpiece of the onboarding process.
- Invest in training! New hires like to be trained because it gives them confidence to do their job better, and it proves that you have an investment in them. Note that training does not always have to be formal, and in fact some more informal opportunities to participate and observe in group projects can be most helpful.
Remember: Adding a new team member can threaten to throw off your entire team dynamic—but working to engage your new employees can ensure a smooth transition.
Originally posted on RickGoodman.com.