By Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute.
Whenever you introduce a new teammate, it’s important that you make both the new employee and the existing team members as comfortable with each other as possible. A proper introduction is key to building trust among teammates and to maintaining productivity. More than that, it’s just basic human decency.
When employees don’t have the opportunity to meet face-to-face during those introductions, fostering those connections can be tricky. Avoid these big mistakes when you bring new virtual staff onto your team:
1. Failing to introduce them properly (or at all)
It goes beyond announcing someone has joined your team. New team members will almost always feels like it’s their first day of school and worry that the other kids won’t like them. You want to prepare the team for the new person’s arrival so that the newcomer’s entry into the job is as stress-free for everyone as it can be.
Make sure that you let your team know that you’re searching for a new team member so it doesn’t come as a shock to them. In addition, when that person has been selected, announce it immediately.
Share a photo of new employees, and provide a short bio that details the following:
- Work history. Where did they work before and what did they do?
- Location. Where do they live? Where will they be working, for example, from home, the office or a satellite location?
- Facts about them. Are they married? Do they have kids? Do they have any hobbies or interesting experiences that they want to share?
- Duties. Most important, define what their duties will be and the plan for getting that person up to speed, including what’s expected of the existing team.
- By giving everyone as much information as possible, you don’t leave room for gossip or speculation, neither of which is good for the team. You should also share photos and bios of the other team members with new employees so that they know whom they will be working with too.
2. Doing all the talking when you introduce a new team member
Remember that you want to integrate new people onto the team as quickly as possible in a way that doesn’t disrupt work. At the earliest opportunity, allow new team members to introduce themselves to the rest of the team. That should involve getting their face out there. If they can use a webcam to say “Hello,” wonderful. If not, a simple head shot allows people to put a face to a name.
Employees should speak for themselves and give their new teammates a little taste of what it will be like to work with them. Remember that trust is built by establishing someone’s competence and motives, so make sure people understand one another’s background and knowledge, as well as what they bring to the table. Think about creating some kind of standard profile (Q and A is a terrific format) that everyone can access.
3. Limiting opportunities for new hires to work closely with other team members
The sooner you have new employees interacting with the team, the faster they’ll integrate. Assigning a mentor or buddy is a great way to offer new hires coaching. Also consider assigning a different mentor for different components of the job. If Rajesh is the expert in coding, Mary knows the most about the software system, and Bob is a genius at knowing where to go in the company for help, don’t be shy about having each of them take some responsibility for getting the new person up to speed. Remember that trust is built through time and exposure. The more exposure to each other, the less time it will take to start working together effectively.
Remember that nothing beats actually getting people together as early as possible, but if time, space, dimension and budget don’t allow for it, use the tools at your disposal to create as rich an introduction as possible.
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com/profile/nellart
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.