Since my last post focused on leaving a team, I thought I’d look at the flip side of the picture on what to do when you join a new team.  (You know that song, right?  “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”)  Joining a new team can seem daunting: you have to rebuild a reputation, forge new relationships, and find a new workflow that works for you.

Here are some ways I’ve found to make it a little easier on myself:

  • Re-introduce yourself after you introduce yourself. When you first join a team, you will naturally get thrust into this “Meet the new guy!” situation in which everyone says hello.  You will not remember the 13 new names and titles thrust at you ten seconds after you meet the team.  So after you’ve been introduced, take the time to really introduce yourself and get to know the other members of your team.  If you rely on that first, “Hey new guy” meeting, it will take twice as long to get acquainted with everyone.
  • Find a mentor. I don’t care how much of an expert you consider yourself, you can always learn new things with a new team.  As such, you should be able to find a mentor on your new team.  A mentor may or may not be able to teach you about your core job skills, but they can teach you the inner workings of the team’s relationship and how work gets done formally and informally.  This will get you integrated faster into the team than just winging it (plus you’ll get to know someone at work relatively quickly compared to flying solo).
  • Keep your communication channels open. Each work place uses a mixture of email, phone, in-person, and other communication methods to talk to each other.  Find out what the most popular communication channels are quickly and leave them open for the first few weeks.  If it’s email, check it often, even after hours.  If it’s phone, give everyone your phone number.  When teammates know they can get a hold of you in any situation, they trust you faster.
  • Don’t believe everything you hear about your teammates. This may fly in the face of common sense, but I’ve found making my own opinion about the people I work with is far more useful than relying on what other people say.  Remember that people come with biases, and some of your teammates may have formed an overly positive or negative opinion about someone else on the team that may or may not be true.  Reserve judgment on your co-workers until you have a chance to form an opinion yourself.  It will save you a ton of headache and hassle in the end.

Any other tips you can think of, leave in the comments below.

-Deborah Fike

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