My husband started a position at a new company a week ago.
His daughter asked, “Do you like the people you work with?”
He paused and answered, “Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t really know anything about them.”
So I asked, “You guys have team meetings, right?”
They have. They meet as a team almost every other day and their meetings are productive. They have defined items to cover and share information that allows them to advise their clients and make decisions and get work done. There is almost no deviation from the agenda.
This is exactly what we strived for in pre-pandemic business meetings. Efficiency. Task management. Business. We tried to stay on track but sometimes veered because we’re human and get distracted by the things outside of work that connect us. Before we became an exclusively remote business world, we would chit chat in the employee kitchen, at each other’s desks, in the elevator or even in the conference room before the meeting started. It was fluid and easy to get to know each other fairly quickly. But, in the midst of a pandemic, we have fewer opportunities to connect, catch up, and in the case of my husband and anyone else starting a new job in a new company right now, a harder time getting to know our colleagues and feeling like one of them.
So how do you start a new job in a new company and get to know your team in the midst of a global pandemic? If you lead a team, how do you create an inclusive, cohesive environment when you bring on a new team member these days? Here are a few ideas to jump start the social onboarding process.
Have lunch together as a team
When you hire someone new, immediately schedule a Zoom lunch for the team. Don’t talk about business or current projects, talk about what’s going on outside of work: kids, favorite vacation spots, hobbies etc. Anything other than work.
Start every meeting with an icebreaker
Spend the first five minutes getting to know something about each other. Pose a question for the team. Have everyone take a turn. For example, “If you could be any movie character or protagonist in a book, who would you be and why?” Another good one is, “What did you love to do as a kid that you don’t do as an adult?”
Have each member of the team spend 30 minutes with your new hire in week one. One-on-one meetings create opportunities for connection. If you want to create a cohesive and collaborative team, encouraging them to get to know each other is just as important, if not more so, than onboarding tasks like learning internal systems and processes. It may seem contrived to schedule meetings for this, but in our new reality of communicating exclusively through screens and not organically in the office, I guarantee that the new team member will appreciate the gesture to help make these connections.
What other suggestions do you have?