Anticipating A New Team Member


At the present moment, the team I’m working on is down a person since last week. There was an unexpected departure when someone resigned their position and so as of now those remaining on the team are stretching ourselves a little bit more than usual until a replacement is hired.

I find myself kind of thinking of this process like an expectant father actually; wondering what kind of person will become part of the family. Some parents hope for a boy or a girl, some start imagining what it will be like to help them grow, anticipating the person they’ll grow into and eventually become.

Likewise, I find myself wondering about this future addition. In all likelihood in this case, the individual will be hired internally as the posting will go this way first and being a unionized environment, I would be shocked if one of my peers doesn’t make the decision to slide from another team to this team. Failing this, there is the strong possibility of another internal employee from another location who will interview and possibly take the job. This is the way things work in unionized organizations, and with every single move, another opening occurs, and someone else takes on a different job until eventually all the internal movement is over and some position goes external.

I find like I said that I’m imagining the kind of person who will join us. Do you do the same when an opening comes up in your workplace? You know, picturing perhaps not the actual person but rather, the desired qualities you’d like to see in your new co-worker?

In my musings, I’d like to see someone who is mature, flexible, creative, genuinely invested in serving those who use our services, and of course dependable. The single most important thing I suppose is someone who is enthusiastic in their work; a genuine team player who understands the inter-dependency of being on a team.

Our team for example, provides front-line employment workshops as well as staffs a drop-in Employment Resource Centre. If you’re not running a workshop, you’re either planning one in the future, meeting with people who have just completed one, or you’re taking your turn helping those in the Centre who drop-in for any number of reasons.

At any time when someone is not available, the rest of the team is required to stretch and determine how best to cover off on whatever role the missing person had for the day. It’s not like we just let that person’s work pile up and it awaits them upon their return.

It’s for this reason that being here is essential. Being ‘here’ by the way has a double meaning; you need to be both physically present and mentally invested; in my opinion anyhow. For me personally, I enjoy working with others who are genuinely focused on – dare I say it – the same things I find important; namely those we serve. How we do that can be different of course but, I do think it’s natural to want to work with people who are all pulling in the same direction.

One thing I also look forward to in a new teammate is someone who brings ideas. Those ideas may stir things up, may initially seem unworkable or too ambitious, but I do enjoy the mental stimulation of entertaining some thought I hadn’t previously considered and hearing it defended or at least explored. This is one way I grow.

The team I’m part of has some pretty strong personalities; I being one of them. That we have at least a few of these types shouldn’t come as a surprise; we’ve got talented people who have had to develop strategies for dealing with a huge range of people that we work with daily. Striving to establish and nurture a working relationship with those we serve is challenging but oh so stimulating!

Now if you were making out your lineup for your own, ‘dream team’, who would you want to work alongside? This is actually a really good exercise to undertake and I highly recommend you do it for real. Taking some time to really think about it, who would you include and why? Who would you remove from your team that you currently count as a team member and why would you remove them?

When you think about people that you work with at present that you’d like to replace with someone else, commit yourself to saying why. Is it just a chemistry thing (“we don’t see eye to eye”) or are there specific actions they take or don’t take that either go against what you’d do personally or what your organization expects. These are important things to think about. Sometimes this can lead to a discussion with that person or have you re-assess your own view of how you see them.

Remember that in sports when some athlete is asked to put together his or her dream team, they pick players from different teams and yet they are still happy to play alongside those on their team they didn’t select. The relationships trump the ‘dream team’ exercise. Likewise you should be able to pick your ‘dream team’ and not insult or feel bad about not including current team members.

I’m looking forward to some future announcement identifying the new arrival. Their arrival will be welcome news for our team, and I’m excited!

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