Last week I had a new member join my team at home.
Pearl is an assistance dog* for my eldest daughter, and she joins us having had almost two years of training.
I’ve never had a dog before, and it’s been very interesting being trained up on how to make Pearl welcome and how to train her to take on new tasks.
In fact there are some remarkable similarities to how you should bring a new human team member on board:
1. Be aware they will be probably be nervous to begin with and it will take them a while to adjust to their new situation and figure out the dynamics of the team. Work hard on making them feel welcome and wanted. First impressions count.
2. It’s important to get into good habits and set a good example as the leader. The more consistent you are with your behaviours and expectations the quicker the team member also gets into good habits and knows what is expected. Become aware of how you are behaving in response to them.
3. You need to make time to induct and train the new member. It is often more time consuming than you might think but upfront investment in planning and conducting the induction period will pay off in spades. Make sure there is also enough time for them to ‘be off the leash’ and free to do things their own way.
4. Make sure you are recognising and rewarding what the team member does well. It’s easy to be focused on what they don’t do well but reinforcing the positives is really important in terms of setting behavioural norms and also building confidence.
5. Accept that you will have to pick up their s*** at some point.
Now I’m not suggesting you should start treating your employees like dogs, but it may well be worth asking yourself the following questions.
Do you spend enough time, for a long enough time, bringing someone new on board to your team?
When do you get it right and when could you do it better? What gets in the way?
For more on how to develop effective teams see some of our other posts:
*Pearl is an assistance dog from the charity Dogs For Good. They do amazing work training and placing dogs with those who need assistance.The waiting list for dogs is always very long. If you can donate or make Dogs For Good part of your CSR initiatives, you will help someone else be more independent.
If you are interested in developing your leadership or creating more effective teams we would love to have a conversation.