Seven things I’ve learned about joining a new team

First impressions matter a lot. Here are some tips to get off to a good start with your new teammates.


  1. Don’t start by telling people they’re doing it all wrong. That’s a quick way to alienate people. Instead, ask why they chose to do things that way and be genuinely curious about the answer. Feel free to follow up with “Did you consider doing it this other way?”
  2. Become the expert. When you start a new job it can feel like everyone else knows more than you. The way you can be most valuable to your team is to dig in, do the research, and become the expert in your area so that you free other people up to do what they’re best at. Instead of asking “Can you do this for me?” ask “Can you teach me how to do this?” Also, don’t assume they had good reasons for everything they did — ask!
  3. Get to know your teammates and what they value. Meet each teammate one on one and learn what they’re proud of, what they hope for the team going forward, how they’d like to work with you, and if there’s anything you can do to help them now.
  4. Get a quick-win in early. One way to make sure your team feels glad you joined is to find something you can do for them right away. Maybe they mentioned something while you were getting to know them. Often there’s some grunt work you can take off their hands, or something important they’ve been putting off.
  5. Pick your battles. Influencing teammates is most effective in small batches. Try planting seeds of an idea rather than presenting a huge case.
  6. Build credibility. It takes time for your teammates to learn to trust you and your judgement. One way to make it go faster is to share your thought processes and frameworks. Explain where your intuitions come from. You might be afraid that it will slow you down, but you’ll make up for it once they start trusting your decisions.
  7. Say “Yes, and…”. When you’re new you can get inundated with people asking for things or sharing their ideas for what you should do. A lot of those ideas won’t be very good, or won’t be high priority. Instead of saying “No, that’s a bad solution”, you can say “Yes, I agree that’s a problem worth solving”. Even if your next sentence tells them it’s not high on your list, they’ll feel more heard and be more willing to work with you in the future.

PS. This is my second post on Medium. Please recommend it or comment to let me know what you think! For my other posts, see http://pmblog.quora.com/

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