How to integrate a new team member


When a new member joins your team, it is critical to ensure that their integration is successful and that the transition period is smooth for everyone.


“Why” do you ask? Because the opposite situation (whereby the transition and integration are poorly managed) can have catastrophic consequences on the team capacity to work together and on the team spirit and interactions within the group.


Even if the team was working perfectly together before, only one poorly handled integration of a new member can unbalance the whole group.


There are actually good practices that can be easily implemented to ensure a good transition.


Before the new team member is recruited


There are things that can be done before the first day of new member. For example:

  • Involve the team in decision to recruit: explain why the new person is recruited, what will be their scope, what are the key skills and qualities you think are required for this position. Involve other team members in the discussion.
  • Some companies even organise team interviews: as a less formal way to interview potential personnel, team interviews can reveal useful-to-gain consensus from the team and they involve everyone in the decision making.
  • Communicate formally and in advance about the new team member: who, when, what, how. It is preferably done during team meetings and confirmed closer to the date, both verbally and in writing (by email for example).


During the first week


The first days of a new person joining a team are always the most critical. You are not only trying to find the best fit for your team, but also you are trying to ensure that the recruit will feel welcome, included and at ease in their new work environment.


A few examples of good practices would include:

  • One-to-one meeting on day 1, to clarify tasks, objectives, tools and reporting line. Make sure that the expectations are clear from the start (from both sides), but also that you empower the new team member by giving them what they need to succeed (it can be tools, equipment, information, resources for example). 
  • Keep the discussion open with the new team member: during the first week, it can be a good idea to pop round at least once a day (for example at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day) to see how the person feels. It gives a forum to answer questions and to address potential issues, concerns, or to simply clarify what needs to be clarified.
  • Introduce in person the new team member to all formal stakeholders. That is also a great opportunity to inform about who is critical and why, what are the challenges of interacting with this stakeholder, the great supporters… and not-so-great supporters of Document Control, and so-on.
  • Organise a social gathering with the whole team to welcome the new team member, for example for a lunch out. If budget does not allow it, it should not be a show-stopper: why not organise a breakfast or tea-time where you can bring cakes or chocolates, or where everyone can bring their specialty (or their preferred brand of biscuits if they are not into baking!). 
  • If the team is large, it can be a good idea to dedicate one person on the team to be the go-to person in case of questions, but also to explain and accompany, both on the work questions and on the “little things that make the integration great”, for example how does the coffee maker work, what are the best lunch options around, who’s the best IT person to talk to when your computer is down, etc.


But integration does not end after the first week. It is an ongoing work and the team must definitely keep an eye on this critical process if they want the team to function well together in the long run. 


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