Any time there is a shift in team dynamics, team chemistry may be off kilter for a while. It is not uncommon for your new team member to feel out of place. As with any change in work environment, it takes time, patience, communication and a plan to welcome a new member of the team. Here are some ways to rebuild or fine-tune the team chemistry when a new staff member comes aboard.
Schedule various interoffice break times. When a new colleague joins the team, it can feel like a Herculean task to get to know your new teammate, but consider that they probably feel the same way. In order to keep productivity at its peak and not lose any ground with day-to-day activities, build in some “team breaks” that can be taken together. Taking a break at the same time allows members of your team to interact outside of the confines of the “cubicle.” Whether it’s scheduling a team lunch together once a week for the first month or bringing in coffee and donuts and having your team get together midmorning, these scheduled “together times” offer up a chance for your existing team to interact in a more relaxed fashion with the new staff member. Studies have shown that when people try to converse while sitting at their desk, conversation steers more toward work items than social interaction. Forcing your team to move outside their cubicle or desk spaces, to sit and chat for a few minutes, is a great way to break the ice with new team members.
Management needs to be involved. Oftentimes when a new team member comes aboard, they are left with the immediate team without much management interaction. This can leave the new colleague feeling cut off or seen as the “outsider.” Don’t leave it up to your team to make a new colleague feel welcome. As the manager, it is your responsibility to help a new member feel welcome. The first step is to have a meeting with your team before the new member starts. Go over what the new member can bring to the team, their experience and all team behavior expectations. Also outline what you will be doing as manager to help ensure good team chemistry. Step two involves meeting with the new colleague the day they start to go over what the first few weeks will look like for them. If you are building in some team lunches, explain this to them so they are prepared for these outings. As manager, it is also a good idea to have your team get together once or twice after work. Be it a “happy hour” or dinner at your house, bringing the team together outside of work allows your team to relax and let natural conversation flow. It’s amazing how chemistry changes when teammates are wearing jeans and having a nice meal together and work topics are completely off the table. Step three should involve team-building exercises to establish chemistry. As the manager, it is up to you to schedule team-building activities to help the new member adjust. Schedule a Friday potluck or sign your team up for a seminar. These types of work-related activities not only allow you to stay on task but also allow the team a chance to do something together as one unit while still doing something that is work related.
Take advantage of community projects or social work events. Whether your team gets involved in Habitat for Humanity or buys a table at a local charity fundraising dinner, participation in a community project or work event helps the team develop a special bond through a common and worthy experience. Note that this does not just apply to colleagues new to the company, but also to colleagues who may have been working in other departments. Larger companies experience these lateral hires often, and many times the teams have never met each other or have only seen each other in passing. It is important for any new member of a team to have an opportunity to establish chemistry with other employees throughout the company.
Finding ways to connect or reestablish team chemistry goes a long way in becoming a better, stronger and more productive team. PrideStaff Financial understands the importance of team chemistry and communication. As one of the top ranked recruitment firms in the nation, we can help you find your next team member. Contact us today to learn more.