Joining a new team is nerve-wracking. Joining a small team can be flat out terrifying. Aside from the desire to meet expectations, there’s this fear of upsetting the status quo. We truly are creatures of habit, made to feel safe by predictability; and opening the door to bring someone new into the fold is quite possibly asking for all hell to break loose.
As the newest member of the Proof team, I have had the unique opportunity to come into an already well-oiled machine and lend a hand. These fears invaded my mind upon beginning my new gig. I know that a huge part of Proof’s success can be attributed to everyone’s willingness and desire to collaborate— and I did not want to be the one to mess that up.
In a lot of ways, this scenario is not unique to starting a new job. Bringing in any outside help, like a branding agency, for example, can risk throwing things off balance. From my transition to Proof, and as I’ve watched new clients bring us on, I’ve learned a few tips, and now, I share the wealth.
Clearly define the need.
Before bringing any new team member or partner into your work, it’s important to define why the addition is necessary. In a way, this sets clear expectations for everyone involved. Being able to hone in on what could be improved or where slack can be picked up will make the transition easier.
In my case Proof had started to positively grow and knew that a content strategist would lighten to load, while also providing an additional and important resource to clients. This role would allow us to offer even more strategic and personalized content to our clients, from someone who had the freedom to exclusively work on it. This transition was clearly outlined to me even before I was offered the position, and gave everyone at Proof, as well as me, a set expectation for how this role would enhance our client offerings.
Do your due diligence.
This part is tedious, but oh so necessary. It’s crucial that this new team member, partner, agency, etc. feels like an integral part of the company from the beginning. Naturally, they will be playing catch up but it’s important to set aside time to debrief and allow them to get a hold of the work at hand.
My first couple of days at Proof were deep dives into our existing clients—everything from names of people I would be meeting or communicating with to past work and messaging standards. It was a lot of information, but it gave me firm ground to stand on as I jumped into the weeds.
When we are acquired by new clients, we run a UYB— or Understand Your Brand Workshop. It’s a chance for the clients to download all of their ideas, needs, strengths, and weakness to our team at Proof. We discuss everything from the structure of the company to their target audience to their website goals. It’s a crash course in who they are so our work can be as seamless as possible.
Make your voice heard.
I was extremely lucky to come into a team of vocal collaborators. From my first day, I experienced a culture of direct communication, teamwork, and honesty. Even as a non-designer, I was invited to voice my opinion on logo designs in progress. Not only did the team’s ability to never skip a beat and continue on with business as usual among my presence help me to feel comfortable, but it also empowered me to speak up.
Keep this in mind when you’re looking for an outside agency to bring in. Do you feel your voice will be heard? The best partners are experts in their field who value the opinions of anyone. This honest and direct culture should be palpable from the very beginning. Looking for another company that values transparency makes the entire process more productive and enjoyable.
It’s been almost a month since I started here and already I feel like I’m getting the hang of this. I give most of the credit to my amazing team here and their willingness to always keep growing as creatives and as a team.
Any change will take a little getting used to, from navigating communication styles to workflow, but a collaborative attitude can go a long way in smoothing the transition.