Being the new kid on the block isn’t always easy whether you are a new employee or are set to join an existing team from a different department or from a different organisation altogether. With time, every team develops its own culture, with spoken or sometimes unspoken agreements as to how things are done and what the hierarchy of the group is. As the new team member, you need to do your best to blend into the team without causing any disruption. If you accomplish this, you will be able to integrate into the team and most likely have a productive professional experience.
If, on the other hand, you face difficulties integrating, you could find yourself secluded, in conflict with other team members and may even end up underperforming. That is why we have come up with the following 8 tips to help you effectively blend into an existing team
1. Be yourself
It is human nature to feel a little bit insecure when joining a new group and that can make us try to present ourselves the way we think people want us to be. However, this is not the best way to go about building strong working relations. This is because it is more energy consuming to act as if you are different from whom you really are. This is because you will have to keep pretending so as to maintain this fake personality. Furthermore, many people can tell when you are not being genuine. This may make the team members avoid you as they will think you are not trustworthy and may avoid you or feel you’re not honest. The best thing is to be yourself and remember you are complete just the way you are.
2. Find out who the key players are
Whether the team has hierarchical structure or not, there are usually one or two members of the group who lead, coordinate, or keep the group together. Observe interactions and team dynamics and before long, you’ll see who has the most influence—and by extension, you’ll know whose support you need. Remember they will also be observing to see whether you are keen on how they do their “thing”
3. Get to know your team members both personally and professionally
You cannot underestimate the importance of close personal connections in the workplace. It’s always good to show an interest in others beyond work. You don’t have to be best friends with your colleagues, but you should make an effort to get to know them and what motivates them.
Establishing friendships with your colleagues can make you happier and more engaged in the team. The more comfortable people are with you, the more likely they are to come to you when they need something. Socialize with other team members during breaks, and join them for drinks or dinner after work. However, remember to respect people’s boundaries, and always behave professionally.
4. Observe processes and incorporate them into your .
It is never a good idea to criticize a process. This is because if somebody from the team created it, you could antagonize him or her. In addition, you don’t know yet why certain things are done in a certain way. Find out what the reason is for doing things just so and assimilate established processes into your own habits.
5. Be confident yet reserved.
Don’t be a know-it-all. Ask questions rather than give answers. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Do not focus too much on showcasing your strengths: your new teammates are probably already aware of your talents and skills (Even if they aren’t, be reserved and let the group dynamic lead developments) and it will not serve you right to rub in people’s faces. Further, it may be interpreted as some kind of superiority complex.
However, this is not to say that you should not contribute. Just ensure that your contributions are delivered in a respectful manner that doesn’t challenge any other group members personally.
6. Deliver on your promises.
Always make sure that you can deliver on what you promise. Do not in an attempt to make a good impression promise things that are beyond what you can be able to do. For example, don’t promise to complete a proposal that would normally take a whole day to prepare in one hour. Give yourself ample time to do a good job. Ultimately, the quality of your work will make a positive impact than the speed at which you finish it. In addition, if you need assistance or guidance from someone in the team, just ask. In most cases, your colleagues will be more than happy to help you. This close collaboration help strengthen your team.
7. Respect how the organization got to where it is.
Seek to understand how the organisation got to where it is now, and what things have been successful or not-so-successful in the past. Assume that past decisions were made for a good reason. Assume that people made the best decisions they could with the information they had. This is a great way to start off on the right foot with a new team. As said above, seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Focus your energy in the present and the future as opposed to the past.
8. Recognize that some of your great new ideas were probably discussed before.
This is one of the most common blunders we make when joining a new team. We tend to come up with ‘great new ideas’ that we assume no one has thought of before. It is great to be forward-thinking and to have new ideas, but it makes a lot more sense to first ask if people have talked about things like this in the past, and what has been accomplished upto now. If you don’t ask these questions, you will look uninformed about the history of the organization and people may think you are trying to take the credit for ideas that people have already had for a long time. Again, always ask.
Keep these eight tips in mind, and before you know it, you’ll be a valued member of the team. Remember to extend a helping hand the next time someone new joins your team!