Joining An Established Team

Published: 21st September 2011
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Occasionally, it is fairly simple to join a new office team when you get a new career, but frequently there is a bit of friction. Occasionally, there is out-and-out resentment, particularly if you are replacing a well-liked colleague who was sacked. This is not your fault obviously, but the onus will be usually yours to heal the team spirit.

There are particular acts of courtesy that should always be carried out whenever you join a new group, even a conversation or dining table. The first one is to not to speak too much straight away. You will learn more about the group by listening than talking or as my Dad used to say: 'You learn more with your mouth closed than with it open'.

You are the new boy or girl and you have to defer to the established group for a time. Use this time to learn individual's names and characters. It is disasterous if you come over as a know-all at this stage of your new 'friendships'. It is also better to learn how they do things at this stage, even if you know how to do them better.

The time will come when you can explain your ways, after you have tried theirs. This is a time of deferment and learning. No one will be thankful for you coming in and altering everything straight away, even if you are the new supervisor, because it will imply that they are stupid having been doing everything in the wrong way until you got there. If you give it time, you may even find that their manner is better, when you understand it.

It is also better to not talk too much about your last job. Nobody really cares anyway and, since your future is in your current career, it is better to concentrate on that than on the past. Give a little praise where praise is due, but be careful of giving colleagues grounds for imagining that you are patronizing them or toadying up to them.

Work steadily, pull your weight, but stop short of trying to make yourself look as if you are sucking up to the bosses. Do not attempt any task that you know is above your ability without first voicing your worries. Somebody will get assigned to help you and this is a good opportunity to make friends. Endeavour consciously to be a valuable part of the group.

If you need help, approach the difficult one in the team, not the friendly one - the same tactic as in a scrap. If you can turn this one, the others will follow. One handy tip is to never argue with anyone at this stage of your association. If you lose you will have undermined your position and if you will you will have created resentment. It is a situation where you cannot win, so do not take it on.

Team building takes time and skill, just like building any friendship, but if you bide your time and work at it you ought to glide into the group like a ship off the slipway.

Owen Jones, the author of this piece, writes on a range of topics, but is now concerned with team building activities for teenagers. If you would like to know more, please go to our website at Small Team Building Activities

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