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Episode 32: Starting Your New Team Off Right

onboarding podcast Aug 02, 2022

My team is pretty new. How do I get a jumpstart on evaluating their capabilities?

This honeymoon stage of a new team is a beautiful thing. A friend of mine recently started a new job and is living on cloud nine with excitement about the work, the role and her team. Everyone around her kept saying, “Just wait a few months – you’ll see how much work there is to do.” 

That makes me a little sad – I know the honeymoon stage has to end and we need to get into the nitty gritty of work, but I just don’t want to miss out on the good things that come in that season. Rather than just waiting for it to wear off, is there a way we can leverage that honeymoon season to establish some really great patterns and connections that make it better when we get to the hard stuff? I hope so . . . and the leader that offers us our question today is exploring the same thing.

My first team that was new from the ground up was when I was managing a mental health clinic and we were awarded a grant that expanded our services significantly. I was a solo manager with one receptionist and we went to a team of five basically overnight. 

After the frenzy of writing job descriptions and hiring and getting all the nuts and bolts in place it was my job to bring the team together. Now you have to remember this was pretty early in my leadership and I was pretty green. I think I saw the “task” or the job to be done as the most important thing we had to do. I organized, clarified, supervised – but was less effective at building team relationships. We stumbled our way through but I could have been a lot more intentional about investing in that honeymoon stage with more than tasks and structure. I wish I would have invested more in the relationships. 

Now that I’ve gotten a little more seasoned, I would look back on that experience and offer myself three things:

Get to know your people:

Once you know what makes people tick – then you can help them design a quick win in those early stages which fuels their success and their willingness to stick it out later when the going gets tough.

Add a personal touch: 

There is a role for friendship to play as we work together to achieve a purpose. Building that kind of relationship in that honeymoon stage would have really helped me when the honeymoon was over. 

Celebrate the clarity and communication: 

I would also affirm my younger self for her ability to create clarity and communicate well. That really set the stage for my new team’s success.

Research on onboarding your new team talks about three things in the first 90 days to succeed: build relationships, clear expectations and establish quick wins

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