There are two main types of companies when it comes to integrate new employees: those that focus on the acceleration of technical skills and those which goal is to build team spirit. In other words, some care about quick results and others prefer to make their people happy, because they are wiser and they know that results from satisfied people will be even better.
Recently, I had the opportunity to observe a modern integration process from the second type of company that focuses on people, and the result was incredible.
During two weeks, the technical component of the job was an outsider, while the focus was to build team spirit and communication competencies. It looks like a waste of time, right? Who never participated in group works at school or at university? All of us. However, how many of us were taught how to behave in order to benefit the team or to deal with persons whose ideas and mentalities are the opposite of ours or whose behavior is unbearably selfish? Even worst, with whom we have to work during 8 hours a day, and we can’t just change to another team.
Teachers don’t teach how to behave in a group. It doesn’t mean that the only way to learn is through the empirical experience. That’s not true. There are many techniques and skills that can be trained, just like math: the more you practice the more you master it, but for that, you need to learn the basics of team spirit.
Now, the new guys entered the room, they were full of expectations and doubts, fears and desires, and they knew nobody. What should be done? The ice breaking and best-proven way for that are to go for the gamification strategy. That approach was used in this case and since the very beginning, it promoted trust among the group.
First, they were invited to let themselves fall behind, trusting that their colleagues wouldn’t let them say: “Hi, floor!”. Some of them thought this was childish, but later they recognized that physical contact was important to create trust.
The following days were planned to make them autonomous and team players. With Lego and mini paper factories games they were lead to experimenting the frustration of poor communication. Requests as building houses made them aware that they forget to ask important questions such as: which color? how many windows and doors? How many square meters should the garden have? and so on.
The amazing factor about this controlled experience was that they learned really quickly what the common mistakes were, but in a funny way, which will be easier to memorize.
There were plenty of different activities alongside with these that I mentioned. Some of them were based on the Agile tools, such as Kanban Boards, Daily Meetings, Retrospectives, etc. which globally promoted the team spirit of those individuals.
Four months passed since these people met for the first time and they are still planning extra work activities together. Great job from the mentors of this integration process, who happened to be also their “go-to persons” (their words) and the first “official smile” that opens the door of trust.