Not crazy… strategic
If you want the newest member of your team to build confidence, quickly adapt to the team dynamic and culture, why not invite them to lead your next team meeting?
Every team leader wants the new guy to hit the ground running. But that can come with some not-so-great side effects.
The very beginning of employment is the best time to integrate a new member into your team – while the enthusiasm is high. They’re eager to help and want to be involved. However, if you’re expecting the new guy to tackle assignments without understanding how your team works, you run the risk of dousing that enthusiasm.
Why this works
It helps the team leader lead better.
Typically the team manager is so busy organizing, tracking, and leading the meeting, they often miss key points and may have their own ideas they have to abandon because they are so busy managing everything.
Letting your newest member facilitate will allow the team leader to participate and focus on important key challenges, including ideas. As a bonus, the new member gets a feel of the team culture they normally may not see.
Prepare your new member for success
You can’t just ask the new member to lead the meeting and just leave it at that. You need to equip them with the right tools to lead a meeting. Giving them some basic tools to facilitate an effective meeting early on will build their confidence, make them feel included, and help them to understand the team’s true needs.
As the team leader, you will need to start the new person off with some basic information about your project and what needs to be covered in the next meeting. A good place to start is with a basic progress report using a simple retrospective.
Instead of having a member give a talk about the progress of the project, let the meeting facilitator (new member) ask what part of the project is being reviewed, then follow up with what about the project went well. Let the rest of the team jot the positive points down on sticky notes or list them on a whiteboard.
The facilitator should ask about the challenges with the project. Have everyone write down the challenges on stickies or list them on the board. Next, with either a silent vote or show of hands, go down through the list of challenges and vote for the most pressing problem.
Bonus opportunity: Break down information silos
You now have a ranked list of challenges to work on. This will let everyone on the team calibrate over what is most important. This would be a great time for the newest member to ask any clarifying questions others may not ask. That’s because your team may assume the rest of the team knows or may be uncomfortable asking questions they “should already know.” This is a rare opportunity to leverage inexperience to break down information silos.
Finally, have the team leader choose from one of the top-voted challenges to solve. Have the facilitator set up an ideation exercise called a “10 for 10.” This lets everyone on the team secretly write down ideas. They are only allowed to list their favorite 10 ideas on the board. Once again, let everyone silently vote and rank the ideas.
This last part might be challenging for your new member. Have them come up with at least three criteria for success. Then, the team lead assigns these tasks to your team.
Retrospective (Identify the challenges)
Ideation exercise (10 for 10) (create quick ideas without discussion)
Actionable insights (create steps toward solving the challenge and assign them)
Find more detail on how to use these exercises here.
Be the guide, not the hero
The newest member is often eager to share ideas, however, they first need to better understand the nuances of a project to be truly effective. By being the guide of the meeting, the new member will observe how the team operates and will interact by being the facilitator of ideas, rather than adding their own eager, yet uninformed, ideas to the mix. Guiding the team through the exercises will be more productive as they sort through challenges and ideas, allowing them to become a more informed team member.
Leading the team meeting will let them practice effective listening skills, learn more about the team’s needs and become better communicators.