Another list I often ask my training participants to produce, concerns their thoughts and feelings upon joining a new team for the first time. Again the following would be typical:
Notice that these feelings are introverted and largely negative. At this stage people’s energy is almost entirely inwardly directed and there is little left to spare to think about team or organisational goals or matters of business strategy.
It follows that a coaching approach on its own at this stage would not work. Before they are ready to assume some personal responsibility and use their initiative, people need direction, information, guidance and reassurance. This needs to happen quickly and in most organizations is accomplished by way of an induction process. Unfortunately too many inductions consist of the new team member being whizzed round the building shaking hands and being introduced to people they will never remember and are unlikely to meet ever again. Never lose sight of the fact that a decent induction will need to take account of the needs and feelings people experience during the inclusion stage.
One of my first assignments as a consultant was to run some induction training at a large call centre. There were about 90 new recruits one Monday morning corralled in the reception area waiting to start their 3-week, classroom based induction programme. Most of these people were very young and were starting their first ever job. You could almost touch the nervousness and anxiety.
We each took 30 or so to our respective classrooms where, for the first hour, they were given a PowerPoint presentation on the call centre’s mission and values. There was very little interaction and the directors giving the presentations were disappointed at the response.
The problem was this was all too much too soon. People can’t concern themselves with the organisation’s needs until their own; more pressing needs have been met. In this case, this meant understanding the basics of where they would be working, what happened at lunchtime, what to do in the event of illness, etc.
Coaching at the inclusion stage is a matter of acknowledging these concerns and providing the answers. I recommend nominating an experienced team member to receive the new recruit and possibly act as their ‘buddy’ for the first few days. An early team meeting is also wise as it will give you the opportunity to introduce the new member to the team’s existing ground rules and give you an opportunity to reinforce those ground rules with the existing team too.