When I played basketball during junior high and high school, each new season brought change and a readjustment period. Old players were gone, new players joined the team, and the uncertainty that this brought to the veteran players could be quite nerve-wracking. It wasn’t until all players opened up to one another and jumped in to learning plays that the team gelled as a whole. Getting past the “new” phase was crucial in having a great season, but it was no easy feat.
The office isn’t exactly a basketball court, but in most organizations it is a team-oriented atmosphere. Adjusting to staff changes can be a challenge, but the sooner current employees embrace the new, the sooner everyone can get back into the team swing of things and produce great work. This isn’t just something that naturally happens quickly and seamlessly – it takes a lot of effort from current players. The individual who’s joining a new team is already excited and positive, so it’s best for his or her new colleagues to generate that same positivity from the very start (and even before!)
Make an effort to plan for the new staff member’s arrival, and take extra measures to ensure that he or she learns the team’s playbook quickly and easily:
“Pre-Game” preparation: Ensure that all employees know about the new addition, and assign training responsibilities to staff as required. Have a training plan in place and ready to go upon his or her arrival, leaving time for questions and practice if needed. Plan the entire first week in advance, including all who will be involved in training – this will help co-workers adjust their daily schedules in accordance with the needs of the new employee.
Game time: Be welcoming, be kind, be patient together as a team. On his or her first day, let your new teammate know that you are as excited as they are, and make every effort to ensure they are comfortable and settled in. Provide a list of “go-to” co-workers that can help when questions arise, and pinpoint one or two key people who will take care of introductions and office tours.
Work on easy tasks the first day, and cover the basics – as the first week wears on, introduce new tasks and check in with the new employee periodically to ensure he or she doesn’t feel alone or lost both personally and in work assignments. Share any organization “must-know” info with the new staff member from the start, and be available to answer questions / provide help.
It’s important to be empathetic toward an individual who’s joining a group that’s already bonded as a team. Remember how they must feel as you go through the orientation and training process, be encouraging, and be open. Soon, your team will be well-adjusted and working together even better than before!