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Last updated on 5/26/23

Your First Steps Within the Team

You’ve just joined a team. You’re asking yourself some basic questions – but important ones, as you want to avoid making a faux pas. You want to become part of the team quickly. You feel the need to belong. You want to become part of the furniture, and for the moment, you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells. It’s normal to take a little while to adjust.

Here are a few questions:

How should I express myself? Should I be formal? Informal?

Here's an example where adjustment is necessary. The rule is simple: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Maxime, a young executive who has just started in a consulting firm, is introduced to his department head.

Maxime (wearing a tie): "Good morning, sir. Thank you for your confidence in me."

Department Head (in shirtsleeves, interrupts and holds out his hand): "Hi Max, I’m Florian. This is Cyril. He’s in charge of project requests for Greater Paris and reports directly to me and operationally  to Jeremy. Pietro, set Max up in the end workstation. Max, you can undo your tie, we only wear them when seeing clients."

Maxime: 😞🙂

Who can I address informally? Who should I address more formally?

Observe, listen and take into account the corporate culture, age, gender and hierarchical position.

Look for a happy medium: Stay natural and simple, but be wary of over-familiarity.

What are the standards of behavior?

For example, how do people greet each other in the morning and leave at night?

Who can I ask for information, and how?

The teams have been informed of your arrival, and you will be copied on emails that concern you. With the help of colleagues, start by identifying who is who and who does what based on the emails. Pay attention to the style of communication (formal, informal). By doing this, you'll have done 80% of the work!

Who can I make friends with?

Here again, a degree of caution is required (caution, not mistrust!). Wait until you have properly understood the relationship chart and confirmed natural affinities before making personal remarks or suggesting going for a drink after work. In the beginning, leave this up to those who have been in the team longer.

How should I dress?

Like you normally do, adapting it as necessary depending on company dress code and culture.

What style of dress should I adopt?
How should I dress?

Certain settings require a formal outfit (jacket or suit and tie). The principle is to not look “out of place,” shock or draw attention to what you are wearing. This could detract from your professional qualities.

In certain companies, a color code is observed for shirts. Friday may be a more casual day.

Working in a team requires cohesion. Observe the style of the team members around you and find a happy medium. A form of dress conformism will be appreciated more than radical originality, as this would be seen as: “I want to be different.” Save that for after work!

Are there any special rules I should follow?

Yes, just like everywhere else, but living in the same space without being on intimate terms with one’s “roommates” does require a certain number of good habits:

  • Cleanliness is always a key point, and collective coexistence, especially in open spaces, means you should avoid strong odors (perfumes, the smell of food at your desk, etc.) that might bother your neighbors. Eat in the kitchen if possible and clean up after yourself. 😁

  • Sound pollution should also be avoided. Make sure not to use the phone speaker (unless it’s a conference call that involves your neighbors) and to speak in a moderate or low voice, covering your mouth with your hand if necessary.

  • Don't call out to your fellow team members at the other end of the room.

  • Avoid staring.

  • Tidy your desk each evening, and don't encroach on other people's space.

  • When you go and see someone, make sure you are not interrupting them. Check back later if necessary.

  • Be courteous at all times. Don't cut people off when they're talking. Use the magic words (please, thank you). ☺️

  • Be punctual, even for informal meetings.

  • Humor helps create a good atmosphere, but not irony and sarcasm. (Unless you are very sure these would go over well!)

  • Write clear, short, properly-punctuated emails with no spelling mistakes! 😇

Let's Recap!

In order to integrate into a new team, consider factors like jargon, levels of formality, dress, courtesy, standards of behavior, who to go to for information, the potential for friendships, etc.

Let's now take care of your relationship mindset.

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