Joining an established team is very difficult. In most cases, team building happens with little intervention – the new team member is be welcomed and given time to bond, however in some cases the new team member will join a team with issues and where, regardless of the effort they make, they are unwelcome.
Consider the following when joining an established team.
Listen more than you talk – It is particularly important when you join a new team. Entering as a know-it-all, set in your ways will not endear you to existing team members. This holds true no matter where you are – from the US, Australia or the UK.
Team building will not be helped if you think you are better than everyone else.
Listen & learn from other team members – what they do, what sort of characters they are. Remember, people resist change, don’t tell them you know how to do things better than they do. Listen, you may even learn a better way.
Avoid sentimentality – keep references to the team you have just worked with to the factual. Your new team will not want to listen to your recollections of what a great group of people you worked with. Occasionally make positive observations about this team, don’t overdoing it.
Give respect to earn respect – even if you are joining the team at a senior level you cannot expect to automatically be given respect. The importance of earning respect rather than demanding it has been well documented already, but if you take time to listen, learn about other team members and understand why they fill the role they do in the team you will learn to respect them.
Don’t be patronising – under any circumstances. Take time to understand how your new team work. You may be surprised to find their way is better!.
Keep your promises, be reliable. – Don’t take responsibility for anything beyond you in the hope it will endear you to the team. Building rapport with other member is hard enough without overloading them with stress as a result.
Be a team player – if you feel insecure or unsure it can be tempting to work alone. Avoid this at all costs. Make sure you stay in the team by asking for help if necessary.
Keep lines of communication open – It is okay to admit you’re new and need support. Often people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness. Actually it can be one of the best ways of team building. You should avoid always approaching one person because they look friendly. Approach the person you consider most difficult first, the experience is often ground breaking.
Don’t argue – just don’t. Bite your lip; your time will come. Arguing when you are the new team member is a no win proposition. If you lose you undermine yourself and if you win you will have destroyed a relationship, hard to rebuild.
In the majority of cases your new team will welcome you and make every effort to help you. They will want it to work as much as you. Listen, understand what you don’t say will be as important as what you do say, be sincere and be yourself.
Team building takes time, team building takes patience, team building will not happen overnight.