Recent posts have covered finding new employees and how the supervisors and new hires can make the “adoption” work smoothly. Now we get to the really tough stuff, i.e. — what does the existing team think about the situation, and how do they react to having this new associate added to their life. You are much more likely to get a new co-worker than you are to be that new co-worker. For all the statistical evidence that the average worker changes jobs “x” times in their lifetime, many people stay at a place for much of their working career. These folks are the bedrock of their communities and have as much “ownership” in a firm as any stockholder. If they actively oppose a new hire, things can get ugly fast. Workplace conflicts make for great drama in books, television, theater, and movies. Companies and careers get ruined — or at least injured — when people fail to recognize the problem and do not take steps to rectify the situation. I posted my advice to the other parties before, so here are some things for the existing team to think about:
- Unless the newbie is totally incompetent, you put your own job at risk by becoming a roadblock to them fitting in. If they really are not up to the job, it will become apparent very quickly and your boss will not appreciate the “I told you so.”
- If you wanted that job and did not get it, active opposition to the winning candidate will not help your future prospects. Why not look at this as a learning opportunity? Observe, ask questions, and find out why the newcomer was chosen instead of you. Being a “good loser” costs you nothing. You may discover that your talents are more valuable on another team; in our industry people move around frequently. A reputation as a sore loser will follow you to the next job.
- New hires bring different knowledge and experience with them. Sports fans talk about players who are “clubhouse cancers” and those who are “culture builders.” Keep an open mind on the new teammate; trust your managers and human resources department to protect you from the former and give the person a chance to demonstrate their construction skills.
- Remember your courtesies. One of the fears parents express about “distance learning” is that their children are missing out on socialization. From our first day in pre-school we are taught how to get along with each other; many think this is the most important subject covered. Fights over locker assignments, parking spots, and office space are not constructive and can create long-term enemies.
- Life is better with friends. We spend lots of our lives in the workplace. That new hire may be in your world for the next twenty years. Why not withhold judgment on them until you get to know them?