Listening to baseball trade news one day a few years ago, I asked our son, Matt, how a baseball player suddenly stops being a member of one team, then just as suddenly becomes a member of a competing team.
“How do you think a manager makes a player an ‘Oriole’ instead of an ‘Oakland A’?” I asked. I imagined a clear process, tools, and messages a manager must surely use to rapidly get the old team out of the player’s system, and the new one in.
Matt thought a moment. “Well, a ritual would be good, as a start,” he said.
Out of curiosity, I asked my husband the same question. “How do you make an ‘Oriole’ out of an ‘Oakland A’?” he asked, trying to understand the question.
“You just buy his contract and he walks in the clubhouse,” he answered.
That’s it??? New team, new clubhouse, new uniform, that’s it?
Too often when a new person joins a team – and there’s lots of change and “reteaming” occurring at many companies – that pretty much is it.
What’s the cost of a poorly managed start? Well, it may inspire the new person to start looking for the exit right away, if he or she has other good options. And if not, at a minimum, it creates a bad and lasting first impression. It reduces new employees’ enthusiasm for your company or team, right from the start.
And confusion and frustration start to build, right from day one. Tales spread to the new team member’s or new hire’s friends of, “Be glad you don’t work here…” Results fall short of where they could be, would be with clear direction, communication, roles, responsibilities and work practices.
Pause for a moment to remember – or imagine – your ideal first day on a new team, or at a new company.
What makes it great? How does your new team leader or employer build on the energy, enthusiasm and drive you bring with you when you first open the door to new opportunity?
What gives you the direction, tools and support you need to focus, take action, get traction, and start producing well as soon as possible?
If you’re a manager or team leader, here are a few things to think about, manage and communicate well in order to make your new team members or employees successful, right from the beginning.
How will the new person come on board the first day? Who will he or she meet? Why? When? How? Where will he or she work? Are the right office space, equipment, building and computer access, and supplies ready for the new hire?
Start with the Big Picture. What is the vision your group is driving toward, by when? Make it very clear and compelling. What, specifically, will success look like when you get there? How is it different from the way things are now?
Why does your group exist? Who are your customers, the people you serve, and what do you provide them? Why does the new employee’s job exist?
What beliefs and assumptions are important to the group, and guide decisions and behavior?
What are the group’s goals for this year? For the next five years? What are your goals for the new employee for the next year? The next six months? The first month?
6. PERSONAL OBJECTIVES
What personal objectives does the new person have for this job? If he or she has one, what is the “test” he must pass, or the hurdle he must overcome in order to feel successful before moving on to the next job?
Who are the new person’s customers? What products and services will he or she provide them? What are the customers’ requirements for each product or service? What business processes is the employee involved in, or does he or she “own?”
How will the employee get feedback about the quality of the work customers receive from him or her? How will you monitor the person’s progress and success? What measures can the person use to monitor and manage his or her performance?
9. COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
What information, meetings, reports and other communications do you use in your group? What information and communication channels will the new person use to manage and ensure success in this job?
What procedures and forms and other tools will the person regularly use? Where can he or she access and learn how to use them?
What training can the employee take to increase his or her chances of success? When and how will the training be available?
12. SUPPORT SYSTEMS
What support systems are available to help the person be successful? What coaching and mentoring can he or she expect? Will that occur through regular meetings, reports, team or peer discussions, or some form of outside coaching?
What drew most new people to this company or to this group? What keeps them here? What will employees miss when they move on to other teams or other jobs? What rituals and traditions does the group have? What’s the “currency of attention” in this group? What legends do people tell about the group’s past challenges and achievements?
The new person is certainly aware of the financial rewards of the position he or she is taking. What other rewards and recognition do members of this group receive? What criteria are used to select how the rewards and recognition are given?
Of course there’s much more to consider when you bring new team members or employees on board, but this gets you underway. When you give each new member of your team a strong foundation, a clear destination, path and measures, you’ve given them a great start to success…theirs, and yours, as a team, as well.
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