Who’s On Your New Employee’s Integration Team?

ShinyHappySmileyIn an earlier post, I wrote about career transitions and creating a plan to ensure quick and thorough transition of knowledge and job responsibilities. People transitioning out of a job are likely moving into a new job – and even a new company – so I thought I would follow up my earlier post with some ideas for successfully integrating new employees into a company or team.

New employees have an infectious excitement and eagerness about starting a new job. It is hard to doubt that a new employee isn’t happy to be there, eager to contribute and ready to take on some new challenges. If not orchestrated well, however, the first few days or weeks at a new job can send a sharp buzz-kill right through a new employee’s energy and engagement.

A good integration plan provides access to tools, information and the professional networks an employee needs to contribute to the job quickly. The best plan is launched before a new employee starts, lays out ways to connect the new employee to the resources he needs, and involves a diverse network that are committed to getting him up to speed quickly and supporting him long into his new career.

Let’s meet the integration team.

The Boss – The Boss sets the tone for active involvement in the new employee’s integration by demonstrating commitment to the employee and the plan. The Boss blocks time early on the employee’s first day to meet with him and welcome him (again!) to the company and the team. The Boss shares leadership perspectives on ways to be successful at the company and in the specific job. As the employee gets integrated, the Boss should provide guidance on corporate culture “watch outs” that might come up or that a new employee would not recognize immediately.

The Team Lead – The Team Lead (often the direct manager) has the ultimate responsibility for getting the new employee fully integrated into the company, and stands to gain the most in recovered time and leverage once the employee is fully productive. Ways the Team Lead can help the new employee learn the job, the company and the culture include:

  • Arrange for shadow visits: Have the new employee shadow you or key members of your team at client meetings, on status calls or as you work through a particular challenge or business activity. Debrief with the new employee afterwards. What did he notice? Where does he have questions? How comfortable does he feel with the team’s style and objectives?
  • Make the right introductions: Arrange introductory meetings with fellow team members, other colleagues and support staff to provide the new employee an instant network in the company. But, don’t leave the course of these meetings to chance. Request the person meeting with the new employee cover a specific topic, such as the company’s mission and vision statements, leadership philosophy, or common collaboration tools.
  • Conduct check-ins throughout the year: Once a new employee has been on the job for a few months, it is tempting to assume his integration is complete. By scheduling regular check-in sessions every few months, the Team Lead can ensure the new employee is connecting to the right networks, has access to needed information and feels supported on the job.

The Trusted Peer – The Trusted Peer serves as a stand-in when the Team Lead or the Boss is unavailable, and also provides a safe place for the new employee to ask questions. The Trusted Peer is usually a top performer who wants the team to succeed and makes himself available to support others. The Trusted Peer is especially useful in providing a candid perspective of “What I wish someone had told me when I joined ABC Company”.

The People Who Make Things Happen (or “Who to go to for what”) – Every integration plan needs facilitate introductions to the people in the company who always manage to get things done with efficiency and quality that defy the odds. Maybe this is a very thorough lawyer in Legal who reviews contracts with lightening speed, or an analyst in Finance who can explain the most complex financials in an easy-to-understand way. A good integration plan acknowledges this extended network and helps a new employee connect to it early on, rather than waiting for him to find them on his own.

The Critical Support Team – These folks should probably be first on the list. Key members of the integration team come from functions like IT, HR, Administrative Support or Facility management. Engage these teams early in the planning for the new employee’s first day. A great integration plan can sour quickly if a new employee has to wait for necessary tools and resources like email, computer hardware or software, access to internal knowledge sites, or even just a desk! Nothing says “We don’t care about your ability to your job” like delays in providing the basic work tools necessary in today’s information age, so provide these teams with plenty of lead time to set up the new employee in their systems.

The team you bring in to integrate a new employee makes the difference between an OK integration plan and a great integration experience. Make sure you’ve got the right people engaged to set your new employees up for success!

Heather Nelson is a partner with PeopleResults. You can reach her at hnelson@www.people-results.com or on Twitter at @HeatherGNelson1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.