Occasionally, it is quite simple to join a new office team when you get a new career, but frequently there is a bit of resistance. Occasionally, there is downright resentment, particularly if you are replacing a popular colleague who was sacked. This is not your fault naturally, but the onus will be mostly yours to restore the team spirit.
There are certain acts of politeness that ought to always be performed whenever you join a new group, even a conversation or dining table. The first one is to not to talk too much straight off. 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 phase of your new ‘friendships’. It is also best to learn how they perform things at this stage, even if you know how to do them better.
The time will come when you can describe your methods, after you have tried theirs. This is a time of deferment and learning. No one will be thankful for you coming in and changing 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 manner 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 a lot about your preceding job. Nobody really cares anyway and, since your future is in your current job, 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 believing that you are patronizing them or toadying up to them.
Work hard, pull your weight, but stop short of attempting to make yourself look as if you are sucking up to the proprietors. Do not attempt any job that you know is above your ability without first voicing your worries. Somebody will get assigned to help you and this is a good chance to make friends. Endeavour consciously to be a valuable part of the team.
If you need help, approach the difficult one in the team, not the friendly one – the same tactic as in a fight. If you can turn this one, the others will follow. One good tip is to never argue with anyone at this stage of your relationship. 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 try.
Team building takes time and talent, just like building any friendship, but if you bide your time and work at it you should glide into the group like a ship off the slipway.
Owen Jones, the writer of this article, writes on a variety of subjects, but is now involved with team building activities for teenagers. If you would like to know more, please go to our website at Small Team Building Activities