Blaine Collins on New Team Members

Blaine Collins has a great post titled “Six keys to a new team member’s success” that I’d like to expand on a bit.

Blaine’s first paragraph is a perfect summary of his post:

Work teams often face situations in which new team members join the team. Teams can smooth the transition by providing a thorough orientation for these new members. When they gain knowledge about such things as process, procedures, and available tools, new team members can quickly begin applying their talents and skills to the team’s purpose.

I’ve been involved with a few organizations who had no idea how to set their new team members up for success….instead they seem to do everything (or nothing) to ensure that their new team members fail. When it comes to hiring new team members, the first thing a manager should do is to ensure that the team member fits…the 2nd thing they should do is ensure that the new team member has no doubts or second thoughts about their new position. This requires that a manager do everything possible to make it as easy as possible for the new team member to integrate into the team…which Blaine has very aptly described in his post. If a manager uses the ‘keys’ outlined by Blaine, the majority of the work of the planning for ‘on-boarding’ a new team member will have already been accomplished. According to Blaine, these “six keys for a new team member’s success” are:

  • Partnering with a ‘buddy’.
  • Understanding the culture.
  • Navigating the organization.
  • Utilizing the procedures.
  • Accessing the tools
  • Committing to the mission

None of the above ‘keys’ are new…but very rarely (in my experience) are they followed by organizations and team leaders. I’ve found that only the really good leaders/managers follow these key steps when integrating a new team member. Some managers spend quite a bit of time on a few of these key items, but most (again…in my experience) don’t utilize all six.

For example, I have a good friend who recently started a new job. His first day was spent sitting in a cubicle with a set of paperwork that he had to fill out. During this first day, he spoke to his new manager for a total of 10 minutes…and during that time he felt as if his manager really didn’t know what to do with him. His second day was spent reading a manual on the policies of the group and he spent a total of 5 minutes speaking with his boss. The first week continued on like this with very little interaction with his boss or the team and the second week wasn’t much better. Finally, at the end of the week he asked his boss what it was that he wanted him to focus on and if there were any objectives or goals he should be focusing on and he received a very non-committal answer of ‘we’ll talk about it next week’. To make a long story short, the manager never spent much time in helping my buddy integrate into the team and understand the objectives, mission, values or the culture. After about 3 months, he decided it was time to move on and find another position elsewhere. When the HR person asked him why he was leaving, he told them that he never felt like part of the team.

Think about the above paragraph…that manager spent 2 months searching for the right candidate. He found him, hired him and then lost him 3 months later. That has to be an enormous cost to the organization…2 months worth of searching, 3 months of not getting the most out of the new employee, and a probable repeat of the same cycle to find another employee.

This cycle of searching, on-boarding, training, etc easily be rectified using Blaine’s “six key’s.” By using these keys, a manager is giving the new employee a boost up into the organization rather than a push…that push just might be the push out of the organization.

[tags] Management, Leadership, Building Teams, New Team Members [/tags]