Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Chris LoCurto

By

August 8, 2012

How Beach Volleyball Is Like Hiring New People

August 8, 2012 | By | 34 Comments">34 Comments

I’m a big fan of beach volleyball. It’s one of my favorite sports, and one of my top sports to watch during the Olympic Games. My favorite team being, of course, Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor.

And no I’m not caught up on the Olympics since I’m traveling, so don’t leave any spoilers. (Thank you DVR!) While in LA, Teresa Duke, Amy Chandy, and I headed down to Manhattan Beach to have dinner. Sorry, no food reviews on that one. But there’s still the rest of the week yet. After stopping by The Creamery to get some ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies, because that’s how it should be, we headed down to the beach and walked along the pier.

Manhattan Beach just happens to be a very popular beach for volleyball. As you can see in the picture, the poles go on forever. And they’re not terribly far apart when it comes to one court backing up to another. Which made me laugh at the thought of a new player being on the court behind someone who’s been playing a long time.

How frustrating is it all day long when the ball from the court behind you keeps ending up in your court. I mean, it’s virtually impossible to avoid it, right? If a player from the other court kills the ball, and the player directly behind you can’t “dig” it out, then surely it’s rolling into your area. Quite possibly while you’re in the middle of playing.

That led me to thinking about how difficult it is for a new team member to get “up to speed” when they enter your team. So often we have a routine with the players around us who have been there awhile. We know how each other acts and reacts to situations. We are able to anticipate how they will handle opportunities and problems.

But not so much when someone new enters the picture. Instead, the new team member spends their time trying to learn their new job, as well as our unfamiliar system. Which if we remember, when we started, we missed digging a few shots ourselves. So here’s my question:

What systems do you have in place to make a new team member successful? 

StumbleUponEmail
  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Our system is one with a variety of training methods – at first it is a blast of online learning, one-on-one, group settings, mentoring, and formal business/life coaching. The challenge is to continue the learning process even as they dive into the actual work.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Chris! Thanks for the new insights this morning. Being one of the functions with highest attrition in my organization, I always expect new team members to perform at peak instantly. Over a period of time, I am able to understand the dynamics of a new comer to the team. Now, we have created necessary buffer required in my team.

  • http://kidsoutandabout.com June

    I have an off-topic question, but I can’t find anyplace to send an email to Chris. What’s the best procedure?

  • https://twitter.com/mattmcwilliams2 Matt McWilliams (@MattMcWilliams2)

    “What systems do you have in place to make a new team member successful?”

    System? What’s a system? ~ Me circa every day pre-2010.

    I could write a book (literally) about how NOT to onboard a new team member but that will probably break LiveFyre again, so I will pass.

    But here is the one thing I figured out at least as it applies to small business (absolutely does not apply to large assembly lines for example):

    In the final interview, which was dinner with the spouses, around the one hour mark, assuming his spouse (post 2010 I’ve only hired men…just worked out that way) was not crazy and I wanted to move forward with the hire, the conversation drifted to the ladies talking to each other about things that ladies talk about and me and the guy talking about work.

    Here was the secret I figured out: I asked how he like to be trained. I asked about previous training and what worked and what didn’t. I told him what would be expected of him by weeks 3 and 8 and shared some basic goals and then asked how I could help get him there.

    Are you a self-learner? Great, let me give you the manual (yes, that means I had to write one) and you can run with it.

    Do you learn best under fire? Great, let’s knock out some basic training and get you on the phone or doing whatever it is you do.

    Do you learn by watching? Great, let me walk you through how I do things and you can mix and match from there.

    Basically I was able to tailor a new team members training to him.

    Yes, there are a lot of things you can’t tailor. Like, the day one lunch. (Got that one from Lampo) On any new hire’s first day, the entire team went to lunch. But at least the new guy got to pick where (within reason, there young ‘en…we aren’t going to Ruth Chris’ thank you).

    But generally, that was my secret. Over time, I started actually hiring people who were like a previous hire, so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

    Take the time to learn how others learn…then you will be a great teacher and they will be a great student.

    • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

      What great insight into making your new team member successful! Love the idea of asking how they like to be trained right up front. And sharing goals by different time frames lets them know what they are aiming for. Love this!

    • http://Lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

      Love This! When is the book coming out? : )

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      GREAT idea! Different personalities will of course learn differently – so, why not ask them which way they learn the best! Now why didn’t I think of that?!?

  • Eric Odorczyk

    To continue with the volleyball theme, as I still play on a regular basis, there are things I do when a new player is added to my team. For one, I like to stick myself or another experienced player next to new player in the rotation. This allows for us to mentor from a short distance as the new person tries to learn our system and we can give some quick in game pointers. Also being that close makes it easier to step in when assistance is needed to get the ball over the net.

    Another technique I like to use is encouraging the new player when they make a mistake and trying to take the blame off of them. In both cases I’m trying to get them comfortable and confident in making the quick decisions needed to win. Without confidence, our team would be hitting lollipops over the net and waiting for the other team to smack it back in our face.

    Both of these are techniques that I have read about before, probably on this blog, that are great for a business to incorperate. It’s nice to see these parallels between sports teams and work teams. Now if only I could get my coworkers onto the court to play some volleyball!

    • Kathleen, Kat or Cass

      Ball ON!! Nothing like that refrain and a do over in our sports league- playing with back to back courts, and side by side courts at some arenas- the experienced teams get used to knowing the newbies will make mistakes, and accept them in grace. Knowing your actions influence another is great motivator to learn quickly. ( I feel this way on the tennis court when I take my boys, our style is somewhat, er, um, freestyle, yeah that’s it, freestyle).

  • http://www.functionsense.com/ Walt

    Systems are so key in everything we do. So many businesses seem to miss the importance of “good” systems and hiring needs to be one of them. Where I currently work there is not much of a defined system, small company, casual process and not my area. I just finished an article for a trade mag on hiring and one of the areas is on getting them started.

    “On the new hire’s first day, make sure you are ready for him or her. This includes organizing the work area, desk, cubicle, and so on. Have the email and network login already set up and tested. Have the welcome packet ready and give them a tour of the facility (if you did not already do that during one of your interviews) and walk the new hire to their work area. Be sure to introduce them to key personnel and possibly even introduce them in your morning staff/project meeting so that everyone gets to meet the new employee.”

    Seems simple enough, but over the years I have seen so many new hires dumped at a desk or job site and they spend there first day cleaning out the old stuff or setting up the new and stumbling to figure out who they report to, who their teamates are, what the company standards are and what are their actual job responsibilities.

    http://augiworld.com/library/cad-employee-hiring-101

    Walt

    • http://www.functionsense.com/ Walt

      Oops – thought first post did not take – was disconnected. Sorry for re-post.

      walt

  • http://lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

    In my new team, they blew me away by scheduling one-on-one meetings with each team member even before I started working with them. They welcomed me on board and explained in detail (gotta love that!) their roles. Then on my first day, my supervisor and I went out to coffee as a welcome and first round of setting goals and expectations. Since our whole team is pretty new, they recently did a team building day where we had lunch together and went for an outing one day and had a celebration at a restaurant the next day. Most importantly, our leaders have made it clear they are thrilled to have me and the rest of the team on board and they work hard to acknowledge our accomplishments from the start.

    • http://caroldublin.com Carol Dublin

      Lily – your team sounds exceptional! Sounds like they really have their act together. And how nice for you to be able to step into your position with clear communication, goals and expectations in place.

      • http://lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

        It is very motivating to be working for someone who lets you know they want you there. They also portray our team as an “elite group” in the sense of highly qualified and experienced. It makes us want to live up to that standard.

        • http://caroldublin.com Carol Dublin

          If that’s not motivation to excel, I don’t know what is!

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      INCREDIBLE!

  • http://www.getservekeep.com Joel Fortner

    I can’t disclose the system. But there’s lots of cake involved. And a spider monkey.

    • http://jonahenry.com Jon Henry

      Interesting. I never thought about adding a spider monkey to the team. Cake? That’s been done for years….

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com Joel Fortner

        Yeah but everyone loves cake. An oldie but a goodie!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          What if you had a spider monkey who MAKES the cake?! huh? huuuuh?

    • https://twitter.com/mattmcwilliams2 Matt McWilliams (@MattMcWilliams2)

      Did you say cake? I’m in bro.

  • John Briese

    We use a mentor-ship program. An experienced teammate signs up to mentor a new comer. Program lasts for 1 year. The mentor receives a bonus at 3 months, 6 months and 1 year if the new teammate is still with us. Mentors are encourage to help in all areas of the new members life. And our no gossip policy does not apply to the mentor-new member relationship as we want free communication between them.

    • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

      John, that is really interesting about the no gossip rule being suspended! Has that ever back-fired? sounds a little dicey . . . “Watch out for so-and-so because he is really moody” or other things to prejudice a new employee . . .

      • John Briese

        We view the mentor as a resource person for the new team member, almost like a counselor. So the no gossip does’t apply to their conversations. The new member would be guided by the mentor to the proper person for any problems that arise. And NO ONE gets to be a mentor that I would have any question about gossiping. The mentors are our Champions!

    • http://caroldublin.com Carol Dublin

      What an interesting way to do it – is there any kind of qualification to be a mentor? And how nice to get a bonus!

      • John Briese

        Mentor qualifications: Must be a Champion! (And we have a fairly high number of them!)

  • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret Wortman

    One of the key things we try to respect when working with agile software teams is to put the team together then leave them alone. Many companies try to shuffle bodies around willy-nilly as if they were interchangeable cogs in some giant machine.

    The fact is that a team develops its own grease and will start to work well together. A team will develop shorthand ways of communicating. A team will develop understandings that shortcut processes & procedures and minimize the time to get things done while increasing quality. A team will do all these things if you leave them alone, protect them, tell them what needs to be done (not how to get it done) and get out of their way.

    But you’ve got to value the people more than the processes, ongoing collaboration over up-front negotiation, and their ability to respond to change over their ability to follow a plan.

    You also can’t compare one team to another in terms of any metrics whatsoever because the team dynamic will be so different that comparisons will have little or no value….

    • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret Wortman

      I think I neglected to make my point — if you can keep your teams together, if you can minimize the amount of time you spend bringing people “up to speed”, you can really minimize the impact of this issue. Because that person coming up to speed doesn’t just impact the team they’re on; it can have a cascading effect on teams around them too.

      • http://caroldublin.com Carol Dublin

        Good point about the cascading effect. And how disastrous if they misread or misunderstand the short hand.

      • http://lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

        Definitely cannot hold their hand forever and it is great to make them feel welcome and shorten the learning curve.

  • http://www.functionsense.com Walt

    Systems are so key in everything we do.  So many businesses seem to miss the importance of “good” systems and hiring needs to be one of them.  Where I currently work there is not much of a defined system, small company, casual process and not my area. I just finished an article for a trade mag on hiring and one of the areas is on getting them started.
     
    “On the new hire’s first day, make sure you are ready for him or her. This includes organizing the work area, desk, cubicle, and so on. Have the email and network login already set up and tested. Have the welcome packet ready and give them a tour of the facility (if you did not already do that during one of your interviews) and walk the new hire to their work area. Be sure to introduce them to key personnel and possibly even introduce them in your morning staff/project meeting so that everyone gets to meet the new employee.”
     
    Seems simple enough, but over the years I have seen so many new hires dumped at a desk or job site and they spend their first day cleaning out the old stuff or setting up the new and stumbling to figure out who they report to, who their teammates are, what the company standards are and what are their actual job responsibilities.
     
    http://augiworld.com/library/cad-employee-hiring-101
     
    Walt

    • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

      Walt, I have been that new person, spending the first day cleaning stuff out of an old desk. On one job, I had to BUILD the desk on my first day!

      Nothing like a bunch of dumb jobs to fuel the fire for self-employment.

      Your words on how to treat a new hire seem so common sense – I hope those that read them in the trade journal take them to heart.

  • http://ladiesgofirst.wordpress.com Nurse Frugal

    The two places I currently work have a similar process for making new team members successful. We will train any new nurse with a more seasoned nurse for a few weeks, slowly increasing the workload as the weeks progress. Also, we rotate the preceptors of the new trainee in order for them to see different styles and be introduced to different people. We have a team approach to the nursing care that we give and we encourage the new employee to jump in from the beginning with someone right by there side if they have any questions. One of the hardest things to do in a new job is to get acclimated to the culture.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow!! I love that!! You must see a pretty good success rate with the new nurses as they walk through this process.

      Thanks Nurse Frugal! :-)