Team Member Introductions

Quick Summary
Team dynamics will ultimately define your team’s success. The process outlined in this guideline will accelerate your team's "getting to know you" process so they will become more productive with less time trying to figure each other out.

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What this is

This guideline is designed to accelerate the "getting to know you" process among team members. It addresses possible methods and topics for information sharing, guidelines to help you decide when to do these activities and how much time to invest, and suggestions on how to leverage the information that results. Alternatives are included for different situations.

Why it's useful

When you start any new project, or add new members to an existing project team, time can be lost to the usual churn and confusion that results as people try to figure out how they fit in, how to work together, and the best way to contribute to project success. Some team members may even be told to show up with no idea what the project is even about!

People want to know who they will be working with and how to do that successfully. They need to know what key skill sets and areas of expertise are represented on the team, and where additional coaching or support would be appreciated. Taking even a little time to orient new team members will increase the team's overall confidence and achievement. Including customer representatives in these activities stresses their place as a valued member of the project team, and will pay huge dividends in collaborative problem solving later in the project.

In addition to the obvious skill-based and knowledge-based benefits, getting to know other team members on a personal level helps build trust and respect. It also gives more introverted team members a chance to get comfortable speaking to the group before make-or-break project decisions are on the line. Getting active involvement from everyone during the team kickoff also sets the expectation that team member contributions are expected and essential during meetings.

How to use it

  1. When starting a project, incorporate introduction activities early in the kickoff meeting. Scheduling these activities right after the project charter overview allows participants to relate back to the project context they'll be working in, and makes it clear the meeting is intended as a joint effort, not a one-way communication venue.
  2. Later in a project, you may want to conduct quick introductions during key review meetings, customer visits, or team off-site events. When attendees at these events know who is present in the room, it helps them identify what information or issues are important to bring up, who to address specific questions to, and people they might want to network with during breaks.
  3. Allow about 2-3 minutes per person, and ask questions to draw out and support more reserved team members. Don't forget team members participating from remote sites – ensure their contributions are heard and respected by team members in the central location.
  4. Keep this first introduction simple. Teambuilding is an on-going process designed to develop a high level of trust between members. These introductions are designed to start the process of team building, not complete it.
  5. Take notes and re-use the information in new member orientation and on-boarding.
About the Author

Jeff Richardson has over 16 years of experience working with cross-cultural project teams and leaders at Global 1000 companies, high-tech startups, and universities in the US and Japan. Jeff wrote the book on project team startup at a Fortune 50 company while facilitating 34 internal startup programs and supporting M&A process integration efforts. He relocated to Silicon Valley to start his own consulting company specializing in leading cross-cultural project teams.

Jeff's engineering and OD background and his skill at designing high-impact teambuilding activities allows him to create engaging and relevant workshops and webinars. He has worked in the US and across Asia with globally diverse companies like GE, Cisco, Hitachi, Toshiba, and many others. Jeff was one of the lead designers for Stanford's Advanced Project Management Program, in addition to designing and teaching project leadership programs at San Jose State and UC Santa Cruz – Extension. More recently, Jeff has been designing and facilitating Global Leadership and Team Effectiveness workshops at some of the most prestigious universities in Japan. Jeff has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a MS in OD & Change Management, in addition to a CQ Certification from the Center for Cultural Intelligence.

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Related Resources
Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda and Guidelines
An example agenda for holding a kickoff meeting for a new project and detailed guidelines for preparing for and running this intense team session.

Multi-Project Kick-off Meeting Agenda
Sample agenda for a meeting kicking off several projects at once, to launch a portfolio or orient (or re-orient) a team to their project set, relative priorities, and how it all fits in with business objectives.

Fast, Effective Ramp Up of New Team Members
A guideline to help you improve team member orientation and training, in two parts.

A User's Guide to Working with Me
This quick chart helps team members communicate their most effective modes of work, including hot buttons, trust-builders, the best ways to raise and resolve conflicts, and more.

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