Your first day at a new school or first time working with a new team is always a little nerve-racking. You have to remember everyone’s names, take note of what they do and keep track of their amazing skill sets. Who do you go to when you have questions? When is it appropriate to collaborate with your new team on projects? How do you ask everyone for input and provide your own input without sounding like a total newbie?
All of these questions are difficult to answer but when it comes down to it, getting to know your new colleagues and building relationships with your teammates is the best way to get comfortable in any new work setting and will set everyone up for success.
When you’re into planning mode for the fall, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you and your team gel:
- Get to know everyone through icebreakers. Play a name game or one of the many other great icebreakers out there—the options are endless! Icebreakers help make everyone feel more comfortable and places your team in the right headspace to contribute and collaborate when you’re together in future meetings. If you’re looking for icebreakers or other team building activities to use in your meetings, check out the When I Work website for a list of great ideas.
- Understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. One thing we are exploring in The Sandbox is understanding what strengths our team brings to the table and how knowing this is very important for work flow and collaboration. We’re learning about the ways each of our team members like to receive feedback so we can be mindful when preparing group brainstorm sessions, presentations or collaborating with one another through tough projects and tight timelines. Knowing what makes your team tick will be invaluable as it will help you work together efficiently. Try this Myers Briggs personality test to jump-start your discoveries.
- Establish a positive communication loop. How does everyone like to receive communications? Although this may seem like a silly question for those of us constantly glued to our email, this may not always be the best avenue for every situation. It’s important to determine the most effective means for communicating various types of information to your group. Is email the best way to tell people what to bring to a kick-off meeting? What about face-to-face discussions: when are those most effective? When is it OK to text your team or call them for information?
- Eat together. Nothing brings people together like food. As our moms always say, the way to a person’s heart is through food. Go for lunch with your group or sit together over your packed lunches. Taking the time to step away from a meeting or pushing pause on replying to the pile of emails waiting for you at your desk is important. Interacting with your colleagues will help establish good communication amongst your team.
Resolve to take time as a team to get to know and understand each other. Establishing connections between teammates will help everyone fit together like well-placed puzzle pieces and ensure that when it comes down to tackling the real work, everyone’s set up for a positive experience. What activities are you hoping to incorporate into your team building sessions? Can you think of any that might become a part of your team’s culture over the next school year?