Welcome to the Team!

Everyone enjoys hearing those words on the first day with a new team. It doesn’t matter if it is a work team, a volunteer team, or a social team. It’s nice to be welcomed.

But…then what? What comes after the welcoming reception with coffee and donuts? What does the newcomer do after receiving the welcome email from the company CEO, Sponsor, Team Leader, Committee Chair, or Hiring Manager?

Over the years I have asked a number of organization leaders whether they have an onboarding plan for their staff, committees, and volunteers. The response is varied:

  • Yes, but we haven’t updated it in several years.
  • Yes, but it’s not comprehensive or doesn’t apply to most positions.
  • No, we meet with the new folks regularly.
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If you have had the experience of being the newcomer to a team, you will understand how frustrating this can be. As the newest member of the team, you want to prove that you are capable of this opportunity. Yet, just to get through the first day, week, and, possibly, month, you need to ask someone, or several people, just about everything.

Here are a few simple strategies you can use to ease the assimilation process for new team members:

  • Brief check-ins. Establish a schedule to meet with the new team member regularly. Set up a series of 15-minute meetings on her calendar to check how she is doing and assess how she is adjusting to the new organization. Don’t miss the meetings. Lead by example. 
  • Onboarding package. Provide the new team member with some documentation, perhaps in a binder. Include information on the organizational structure, roles and responsibilities of the team, expectations of the committee and volunteers, organizational terms and acronyms, layout of the facility (including lunchroom, restrooms, fire exits, parking), phone and voicemail use, computer and network access, and training.
  • Buddy program. Ask the team for volunteers who would be willing to be that “Go To” person for the new team member. The Buddy can show the new team member around the office, introduce him to others on the team, and help him acclimate to the schedules, meetings, and some of the software tools used in the organization.
  • Transition plan. If the new team member is replacing someone who was promoted or has moved to a different team, can she meet with the outgoing team member for details on the role and responsibilities? This would be a good opportunity for the new team member to ask questions about the details of the role.

By providing consistent support to new team members, you set up the organization for success; team members welcomed in this way will be more likely to want to stay and be part of the team.

Ensure that you have the support structure in place with an established onboarding program to welcome new team members to your organization and enable them to be successful from Day 1.