George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Progress is impossible without change.” While that may be true, managing a growing team—while exciting—also presents its challenges. Teams that have settled into a successful working rhythm often feel uncomfortable adding new members, or they’re exasperated by changes to their routines. New employees may feel anxious about how they integrate into an existing team. Project schedules, team collaboration habits and employee productivity can be impacted by changing dynamics.
The following five tips will help managers and project teams onboard colleagues as seamlessly as possible.
1. Channel corporate culture.
Corporate culture—the psychology, attitude and beliefs of a company—influences every area of a business. Having employees understand what your company’s culture is will create cohesive teamwork that’s sustainable as the team grows. When on-boarding employees, invest time and resources into making sure your company culture is well understood. One of the elements of a strong organizational culture is having a clear mission and vision. Be sure you go over both of these when welcoming new team members—and leave room for questions. For example, if “having a small company feel” is one of your company’s core values, make sure that your team has ample opportunity to get to know each other socially by sponsoring team lunches or activities. If your business values philanthropy, grant team members paid time to volunteer for local community projects. If it’s education and learning, offer a stipend for classes and training. Possessing a consistent attitude and communication style across all channels and at all leadership levels will solidify the feeling of belonging for team members as the numbers grow.
2. Recognize and reward.
It may seem obvious, but the happiest (and hardest working) employees are those who feel appreciated for their efforts. When teams are small it’s easy to remember to praise people for their good work. But as the team grows, and work demands increase, these acts of recognition can fall by the wayside. Don’t let this happen. Instead, create acts of recognition. You could spearhead “great teamwork” activities like weekly pizza parties for meeting sales goals, or hang a gold star on someone’s chair for receiving a great customer comment. Send a simple team email congratulating employees that went above and beyond the call of duty. When team members—old and new—are actively receiving acknowledgment, the team will be inspired to band together. Keep your acts of recognition simple so that you can follow-through and be consistent. And make sure they align with your company culture and values.
3. Keep lines of communication open, and current.
One of the trickiest parts of using collaborative leadership while growing a team is making sure that everyone is working from the same knowledge base. If you know that you’re going to be adding new members, try this: Ask your current team to give you three things they would want to know if they were just arriving on the scene. Use open-book management strategies: Be transparent where appropriate, have clear team goals, practice conflict resolution methodologies, and encourage people to ask questions. To create a sense of team cohesiveness, keep employees engaged by really listening to their suggestions or concerns, and initiate regular check-ins with the entire team. These good practices allow for growth without too many wrinkles.
4. Manage your resources efficiently.
Teams grow because the business is growing, there’s more work to do and new skills are required. In these circumstances, one of the most valuable investments you can make is to find a social project management tool that keeps your team members organized and able to collaborate as efficiently as possible. For teams and businesses to be truly successful, each person must have a clearly defined role and goals, as well as visibility into their team members’ work status and goals. Using project planning software lets managers easily delegate tasks to the appropriate team members and prioritize projects.
5. Embrace change.
When bringing new team members on, it’s important to focus on the positive while allowing opportunities for challenges and concerns to be aired. Be sure to talk to your colleagues about the changes, and how they present opportunities. Talk to the team about who is being brought on and what skills these new team members bring to the table. Make sure the entire team is informed enough about your company’s overall strategic vision that they can understand the decision to bring new members into the project. Ask for questions or concerns, and be sure to address them. Transparency goes a long way toward reassurance. Create opportunities for the new and existing team members get to know each other. Above all, be patient throughout the implementation process. Growth means all of your hard work is paying off!
How did you embrace change to grow your team—tell us in Comments.