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New beginnings

Written by Martin Reed on Tuesday, 05 November 2013. Posted in Talent, People

The arrival of a fresh recruit is a daunting prospect for both the individual concerned and the team they are joining. The integration process should therefore take the needs of all parties into account, says Martin Reed

New beginnings

According to government statistics, the economy is on the up and confidence is improving. Another positive sign is the fact that the rate of unemployment has dropped to 7.7%, down from 7.8% the previous quarter, which means that more companies are hiring and the jobs market is becoming stronger.

Although the outlook is positive with companies taking on new members of staff, recruitment can present its own challenges, not just in finding the right person, but in welcoming new members to the team and helping existing team members deal with internal changes and adapt to changing team dynamics.

So, the interview process is over, you’ve decided that you’ve found the right person for your role and they’ve decided your company is right for them. What now?

As I’m sure we all remember, starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. You’re faced with new responsibilities, new colleagues and a new boss, not to mention a different working environment. It’s essential for the new employee to be made to feel as welcome as possible and the process of engaging with your new starter can start even before their first day.

Apart from the job offer letter, which should express your personal welcome, it’s worth considering inviting them on a team event or lunch. Inviting a fresh recruit along to meet their new colleagues in an informal environment is a good way to start their integration into your team.

As the CEO of Thomas International, I also make a point of calling new starters personally to welcome them to the company. Every employee is an essential part of the team and it’s important for them to see that we recognise this from their very first day.

A planned induction schedule will help you demonstrate to new employees that they are a valued member of staff. Implementing an effective induction will help them feel comfortable within the organisation more quickly and making time for them to spend with other members of the team will allow them to engage with their new colleagues and get to know them better.

Helping the existing team adapt to new colleagues is also part of this process. Whether your new starter is replacing a team member who is leaving or filling a newly created role within the company, a new staff member will often change the dynamics within the workplace. Helping your employees adjust can go a long way to maintaining team morale and performance as well as ensuring your new starter feels comfortable in their role.

When a new member joins your team, it’s essential to understand how they work best and how they prefer to be managed in order to get the best from them. In the long term, regular one-to-one meetings and open communication will help you learn how to ensure they perform to their potential but in the short term, one of the fastest and most accurate ways to understand their preferred way of working and communication style is psychometric assessment.

Many of the same techniques I’ve already covered can help your team to adapt and feel comfortable with changes taking place. For example, seeing a planned itinerary will help existing team members feel included in the induction process and understand their responsibilities in terms of helping the newest employee understand the company and/or team structure.

Likewise, allowing existing employees time to get to know their new colleague will support the formation of strong working relationships and a positive team atmosphere.

It is also important that each member of staff is clear on what their roles and responsibilities are and what those of their colleagues are. When a new member of staff starts in a newly created role, ensuring that everyone is clear on the team structure will help to avoid confusion later.

Primarily, it is the manager’s job to ensure staff relationships are harmonious and that there is a positive working relationship. It is accepted that good managers will take time out to speak to their team members individually to discuss any issues they may have and during a period of change, but it’s even more important that these lines of communication remain open.

All these strategies will help to encourage team cohesion and good working relationships between existing employees and newcomers, which not only helps them, but also your business as a whole. The happier and more comfortable the environment, the more productive and committed to the company your staff will be.

The first few months in a role can really set the pace for the future, so making your new employees feel as welcomed and supported as possible in their first few weeks at work can have long-lasting effects. 

About the Author

Martin Reed

Reed has been at the helm of psychometric testing company Thomas International since 2007, after being appointed as chairman two years earlier. As well as penning this regular column for Elite Business he is also a founding member of the Bucks Business First and a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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