by Sarah Becker
Vice President at Charles Aris Inc.
Charles Aris executive recruiting teams spend the majority of their time helping candidates learn about new opportunities, preparing for executive interviews and nailing down resignation details. It’s with great pride that we help facilitate the recruitment process from start to finish – and that includes providing pointers on making a great first impression with your new team.It can be difficult to join a team when you’re new in town, particularly if you’ve been tasked with leading a group of individuals you’ve never met before. The following tips are meant to help ease your transition, introduce yourself to teammates with grace and tact, and ultimately lay the foundation for what will be a fruitful step in your career:
1) Connect with a team member from your interview process: While interviewing with your new organization, you likely developed a strong rapport with your direct hiring authority and / or other members of your new team. You can use this rapport to seek guidance on the culture of the team. Are they excited to see someone new join? Are there any cautionary tales or trip wires you should stay away from? It’s particularly important to connect with your hiring authority, as you want to ensure you’re partnering with them to make an appropriate and meaningful introduction to the team and organization.
2) Rely on LinkedIn and Google research: The power of LinkedIn can’t be overlooked. Take a moment to find some of your soon-to-be peers and team members to learn what their backgrounds are and where you can find common ground. If nothing else, making connections via LinkedIn will provide you with a few familiar faces when it’s time to meet your new teammates. Leveraging search engines such as Google will also uncover Ted Talks and other substantive content that will give you greater insights into your peers’ backgrounds and accomplishments.
3) Be humble: Make sure your new teammates hear that you’re interested in them and their perspectives. You’re likely expected to make tough decisions and impactful contributions, but it isn’t necessary to stress change early on (unless that’s precisely why your new team is excited about you and your arrival). Make it known that you want to hear their thoughts and ideas, and that it is your hope to leverage your experience to help them.
4) Depending on the format of the introduction, you may be able to allot time for a Q&A session is a great way to build trust and knowledge within the team. A technique I learned early on in my career is, effectively, “20 Questions” or “Hot Seat” – the new leader offers an opportunity for the team to ask 20 questions, with next to nothing off limits. Be prepared for questions about why you joined and where you see organizational opportunities for progress (where you may want to stay at least a little vague, letting them know that in your experience you can’t recommend change until you have time to understand the present). And be prepared, of course, for personal questions revolving around family, hobbies and the like.
Ideally, the team should come away with a feeling that you’re excited to be there; that you’re there to help them and the organization grow; that you respect them; and that you look forward to getting to know each other better. There’s no set process for integrating yourself into a new team, but by following the four points outlined above, you’re well on your way to creating a cohesive unit that buys into your leadership.