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Even the most experienced and confident people have the jitters when first meeting with a new team.
That's true for extroverts and people in every industry. Whether you're a new manager or a new employee, you want to get the first meeting with a new team right.
The first meeting with a new team is important because it introduces who you are as a person, what you'll contribute to the team, and how you plan on helping your team succeed. It's a time to answer and ask questions and start bonding with the people you'll be working closely with. You have one shot at this, so preparation is crucial for a successful first meeting.
Fortunately, simple strategies are available to ease your nerves and help ensure your first meeting is successful.
Why is the first meeting important?
First impressions matter a lot. Walking into your first team meeting gives you and the rest of your team members a lot of information, even if it seems nonchalant.
If you're joining a new team at work, you want to clarify that you're ready to contribute and bring your skills and ideas to the team — especially if that team is high-performing. Maybe you're meeting with a new boss before your team's first meeting. Don't be afraid to ask questions so your introduction meeting with your new team goes smoothly.
If you're wondering what to say when joining a new team, remember to be your authentic self as you introduce yourself. New employees want to relate to team members on a personal level, so tell them some things about yourself that aren’t work-related to easier connect.
You can gain a sense of team values and culture by listening to people talk. If you're leading the meeting, ensure there are plenty of opportunities for different people to speak.
If it's your first meeting with employees as a new manager, the first meeting is a time to establish your management style. When you're managing a new team, people need to bond and get to know each other. Aim to build trust and foster a team where everyone gets along. The initial meeting will help you start off on the right foot and develop your team.
It's okay if you're a little nervous about leading a new team. Our professional BetterUp coaches are ready to support you when you learn new strategies that will help make all of your meetings a hit.
9 ways to prepare for a successful meeting
Your first meeting can bring a lot of pressure. Of course, you want to get your points across clearly and not fumble with your words. The best way to do that is to walk in as prepared as you can be. (Don't forget breathing exercises are an important part of the preparation for a big meeting.)
Here are nine tips to help you lead your first meeting with confidence and ease:
1. Have a set agenda
What new team leaders should do first is create a set agenda. When you have something to reference, remembering everything yourself takes the stress off. Make a template with either a slideshow or handwritten cue cards.
These aides will help you stay on topic and hit all the points you wanted to discuss during your meeting.
As a new manager, you want your first impression to be that you’re organized and can lead your team well. Your agenda template sets the tone for the meeting. It also indicates your broader expectations and leadership philosophy.
2. Prepare questions and prepare to be asked questions
Ask your team members to tell you a bit about themselves in a professional way. Social connection and trust are hard to build in the virtual environment. Model vulnerability by sharing a bit about yourself, including who you are as a person. Be thoughtful about what details you want to share and why to avoid going too deep or intimate.
Ask each person to introduce themselves with a few points that might include something light-hearted but also something about their current work. Icebreaker questions help lighten the mood and encourage people to share their values and what's meaningful to them.
For a new manager, first meetings with staff are the chance to start learning who they are in addition to what kind of professional development and mentoring opportunities they're searching for.
Don’t be afraid to ask some tough questions, either. Ask them what their worst team experiences have been like and how you can help them with their problems. Allow them to ask you some questions, too, to help them better know your management style.
3. Get your meeting space set up just the way you’d like it
What’s worse than walking into a meeting space and finding it totally upside down? If you're lucky enough to be in-person, set up the physical space.
If people are too spaced out or too close together, they’ll feel awkward. Make sure your space is intimate enough to have room for everyone, but they aren’t struggling to hear others when they speak. Make sure that any seating faces in the direction you want and that there’s enough space for everyone.
Even in the virtual environment, consider what virtual collaboration tools you will use, when, and where. Err on the side of leaving the presentation off so that people can see you and each other for a first meeting.
A comfortable environment for your first meeting can help ease any tension or nerves. That goes for both you and your new team members.
4. Research your new team ahead of time
There's nothing wrong with doing a little research before you meet face-to-face. Try using LinkedIn to check out what kind of skills your team members bring to the team and where they've worked before. It's a way of getting to know your team ahead of time, which is helpful if you're nervous. It can inspire you to ask questions and help you relate more personally.
It will also help you remember names, learn pronunciations, and become familiar with their faces ahead of time. Check out your new company's website to see if they have a "meet the team" page.
Even if you do a lot of research, don't let that get in the way of getting to know your team and leaving them room to tell you about themselves. People are far more than their LinkedIn profile. Leave room for them to surprise you.
5. Set a good example
Model the behavior you want to see from your team members and throughout the office in your new role. Keep distractions such as electronics away so they don't derail your prepared agenda. If cameras-on is the norm, tell people in advance and remind them again in the first meeting.
Show them what kind of team culture you want to establish. Explain the importance of collaborative intelligence in the workplace and set an example during your meeting by listening to others, asking questions, and being open to feedback. Bring an optimistic attitude and be excited about the work you're about to do.
Up your energy by doing quick exercises or breathing before the meeting, if possible. If it's a video call, take it from a standing position and speak to the camera as if the team members are in the room with you.
And, of course, arrive on time. You don't want to be late for your introduction meeting with a new team.
6. Set proper goals
Establish what goals you want to set for your team ahead of time. Think about what direction you want your team to take, or what quota you want to fill. These goals for your team members could be daily, weekly, or monthly. High-performing teams will want you to set goals so they can continue to grow, but setting clear and attainable work goals benefits every kind of team.
7. Don't over-explain things
It's great to be articulate when you're communicating, but make sure you aren't over-explaining things. Your team members are intelligent. If people already know their roles and responsibilities, you don't need to include onboarding information in your initial meeting.
Check-in with people if they seem confused, but don't assume they don't know anything about how the business works or what their roles demand.
Your working relationship with others should respect and acknowledge their intelligence, experience, and expertise rather than doubt it.
8. Practice your timing
There's no need to spend the whole meeting talking about one topic. You want to keep your team member's attention, not bore them. An effective team meeting doesn't have to last two hours. It should be concise and respect other people's time and attention.
Review your meeting agenda, see if one section seems too long, and see how you can shorten it. Leave some time for questions, too. Your new team is likely just as curious about you as you are about them.
9. Have a strong close
Don't be the first to leave the room. But don't let the meeting trail on awkwardly. Summarize your points and action items and end it. Your close should be concise and motivational, too. Motivating your team will encourage team members to become passionate, set goals for themselves, and work hard.
Be inviting and reinforce what you've put effort into preparing for your new team by sticking around to chat. Offer to clarify any final questions and schedule any one-on-one meetings, if necessary. Show that you're open to connecting with people and getting to know your team members by being openly interested in what they have to say.
Final tips and recommendations for leading your first team meeting
You want your first meeting with employees as a new manager to be successful since you've done so much preparation. You also want your employees to succeed, and a strong first meeting helps with that.
As you think about how the meeting will go, here are 13 recommendations to remember before, during, and after your first meeting with a new team:
- Be intentional — think about what you want people to take away from each agenda item and interaction
- Be open to feedback and prepared to listen
- Acknowledge that you’re learning, too, since you’re a new team member
- Understand that building trust can take some time
- Establish a plan for the first 90 days and let everyone know about it
- Take note of your mistakes to help you in the future
- Practice what you have to say before the meeting a few times
- Make sure that you have all the necessary materials and that your technology is working
- Think about how to lead your team in a way that boosts morale and uplifts one another
- Give people plenty of time in advance for when the meeting takes place by sending out Slack messages or sharing the Zoom link ahead of time
- Share the team meeting agenda so everyone can follow along
- Take the time to explain processes and set expectations for team members thoroughly
- Explain what goes into your decision-making and how you evaluate progress and mistakes
Even with ample preparation, a first meeting can be an intimidating moment. Don’t hesitate to seek support. A BetterUp coach can help you mentally prepare and practice for a stellar meeting that will leave you and your new team members excited.