The Quick Route To Fitting In As A New Team Member
- Find out as much about your new team/organisation as you can. Remember it’s not just the bosses that count. In most group endeavours you will find substructures, an unofficial hierarchy, a ‘pecking order’ that been established up over time. This structure can be as important to the smooth running of things as the formal management structure. I know it’s not a completely legitimate comparison but I find myself likening this situation to 'Dominance Hierarchy' where animals compete for food, territory etc. Until an individual has established themselves it’s probably best they don’t mess with it.
- Plan on how you are going to introduce yourself. A big part of this is knowing exactly what your role is. A short sentence that shows how you can help the team is better than a long winded expose on your life as a pickle farmer in Devon.
- Show an appropriate amount of enthusiasm. Bounding around like a puppy in a new home or swooping in like a super-hero to save the day probably won’t go over well. Consider a middle approach underpinned by professional confidence.
- Accept help/feedback graciously. The help may be unnecessary and the feedback unwarranted but it is best to think before rejecting either. I remember part-time worker in a big warehouse suggesting to a new ‘trainee foreman’ that what he was about to do was wrong. He told me to get lost he was in charge. Mayhem ensued the forman claimed ignorance and I was rebuked by a senior manager for letting it happen - apparently I should have known better! Looking back it wasn’t the mistake that mattered it was the aftermath. In a closed group these things are important and dissent can spread with surprising speed. From that day onward the foreman had a reputation that he could not be trusted. I find it funny that more than 45 years later such a trivial event still irritates me and I continue to think ill of that fellow. I need to re-read my thoughts on making peace with the weaknesses of others.
- Get involved as quickly as possible. Every organisation has it’s own unique culture. Get to know what the culture is and how it has evolved before suggesting changes. One of the best way to do this is join in, often you will find there is a good cause to support or social gatherings to attend.
- Be honest. Someone somewhere talked about the principle that the most important job in the world is the one you are paid to do. 'Pulling your weight’ and giving a fair days work are principles I believe in. So even if where you are now is not where you want to be respect the job, respect yourself, respect the team.