Here’s the story. You hire a new person for your group. Before long he knows everything you and the team are doing wrong. He isn’t shy about expressing his opinions. Many of them start with, “At my old company, we…”
We both know this causes big problems. The team members who have worked long and hard feel like the new person does not understand or appreciate their experience (and this is probably true). The new person feels like the existing members are set in their ways and not open to new ideas (there is probably some truth to this as well).
Both sides become frustrated and upset and act in ways that perpetuate the misunderstandings. While there will always be some growing pains, they can be managed using three simple strategies.
Restart your team when you add a new member
When someone joins the group, it will be tempting to expect that person to fit into the existing team culture. That’s a mistake. Every membership change results in a new team. The best approach is to open up all team processes and rules for reconsideration. In other words, give the person a say in how things will operate. You hired him. He has something to offer.
Both new and old team members could benefit by understanding the opposite perspective. When people are new; they want to be noticed, accepted, and valued. When people have been on a team, they want new people to recognize and appreciate the problems they have already solved, and the work they have put in. Your job is to facilitate the conversations so this kind of understanding can grow.
If the new person is really ruffling feathers, it can be easy to sit back and watch him self-destruct. Don’t let that happen. Talk to the person off line and give him a heads up. This could mean letting him know how his actions are being taken by the group, and suggesting ways to ease in more smoothly. You’ve already invested a lot during the hiring process. Don’t waste that investment.
Image credit: Jayel Aheram