How to adapt to a new team?

The adaptation of new employees: 3 approaches

Adaptation is the process of adapting an employee to work in a new organization. Everyone, whether a student or an experienced worker, experiences stress when changing jobs. People tend to worry whether they can cope, whether they will be able to build relationships with colleagues, how the interaction with the leadership will develop. Few people can immediately join the work, to get used to the new place, according to a study by Superjob, it takes one to four months.

For the employer, it is important that the adaptation of new employees was quick and painless. According to the study, only 27% of companies organize preboarding of new employees (the process of employee adaptation to the new environment even before they start working).

The majority of people who quit within the first 6 months of employment made the decision in the first 2-3 weeks. Successful employee onboarding would avoid the cost of finding and training employees to replace those who quit.

Adaptation goals:

  1. Reduce costs – the sooner an employee integrates into the work environment, the sooner he or she will work efficiently.
  2. Reducing employee turnover: If a new employee feels uncomfortable in the workplace, he or she can start looking for a new job. If adaptation is successful, the new employee quickly joins the team and the chance that he or she will stay at the company for at least three years increases by 69%.
  3. Saving the time of the immediate supervisor: adaptation according to a certain algorithm helps different departments of the organization to work together better to immerse the newcomer in the working environment.
  4. Decrease in the stress level of the new employee.
  5. Increase of level of satisfaction at work at the employee.

What affects the adaptation?

  • The openness of the company to the arrival of newcomers to the team.
  • The size of the organization: in a small organization the adaptation of new employees is less formalized.
  • The corporate culture – how open it is, whether it is logically structured, whether there are ready-made algorithms of integration.
  • Psychological climate in the team, in a friendly environment, adaptation is faster.
  • Management skills, both the immediate supervisor and senior management.
  • Motivation of a new employee – whether he is set up for short-term cooperation or plans to work as long as possible.
  • Position – high responsibility and impressive workload imply a long period of adjustment.
  • Newcomer’s personal characteristics – emotional intelligence, communication skills, education, qualifications.
  • Matching skills and professional competencies to the position.

Types of adaptation:

Adaptation can be primary, if the employee starts work for the first time in his life, and secondary, when he already has work experience. However, this division does not cover all areas in which employees adapt to the new environment. If we consider this process in more detail, we can distinguish the following types of adaptation:

1. Social adaptation – acquaintance with the “atmosphere of the company”, integration into the social environment, acceptance of norms of behavior, active interaction with this environment. 2. Production adaptation – inclusion of an employee into the production process, studying labor norms and working conditions, this can include getting used to new equipment and software, studying the CRM-system. 3. Professional adaptation – acquisition of new knowledge and skills required at the new place of work, assessment of growth prospects, the possibility of training and professional development. 4. Physiological adaptation – adaptation to the new working conditions, schedule, loads. 5. Psychological adaptation – building relationships with the team and management. 6. Organizational adaptation – studying the mechanisms of interaction in the organization: who you can address a certain issue to, who is subordinate to whom. Its result is a clear understanding of your place in the structure of the company. 7. Economic adaptation – the process of getting used to the system of material stimulation, level of payment.

There are three approaches to adaptation

1. “Optical” – “you work, and we will look at you”.

This approach cannot be called successful. Employers who choose it prefer to discuss wages and responsibilities of an employee after seeing him in action. There is virtually no training, the newcomer gets to work right away. If he is not a good fit, they hire someone else. For a new employee, this can turn into frustration and a feeling of being unwanted.

2. “Army” – “hard in training, easy in battle”

A probationary period becomes a real test of survival: a newcomer is given difficult and responsible tasks, but they are not told how to perform them. Under these conditions, only the most motivated remain. An employee who is not suitable is discarded and a new one is hired. This method has negative consequences: after enrolling in the staff, the new employee relaxes or begins to “take revenge. Newcomers in such organizations are treated with hostility, or they try not to notice them – no one knows how long they will last. So the attempt to hire the best personnel turns out in the long term bad attitude to work and conflicts in the team.

3. “Partner” – “we’ll help.”

This approach is the result of an effective personnel policy. The employer realizes that there are no perfect candidates, does not delay the search, and chooses the most suitable person for the position. The entrance to work is as smooth as possible – the employee is trained, introduced to the organization, a mentor is assigned so that he can ask his questions.

Vladimir Trofimenko , general director of the Mankiewicz representative office in Russia and the CIS, member of the Strategic Council for Investment in New Industries under the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade:

“Our project management system was implemented naturally organically and was based on the desire to achieve the company’s goals. We don’t have a department that could deal with staff adaptation. Instead, a system of “startups” has been implemented. They are formed based on the psycho-physiological characteristics of each participant and are based on continuous training of team leaders, who oversee the balance, clear planning and hierarchy within the team. With this approach, the effectiveness of an entire unit is always greater than the sum of the abilities of its constituent employees. Each startup is recruited for a specific project, and its duration depends on the duration of the task. As soon as one startup closes, a new one is formed immediately, with a different set of employees. This way, the new employee does not go through a long adaptation process, but immediately starts his or her own business and gets to know his or her startup colleagues. When the task changes, the newcomer starts to get into the specifics of another startup and works with other colleagues. It’s pretty hard to accept a structure where there are no instructions to the staff, no percentage of sales, and no penalties. But the results speak for themselves: at Mankiewicz, the average length of employment is 12 years; there is no turnover of staff, which Russian companies suffer from. Many stay with us when they first come as students for an internship. It means that the system proves its efficiency.

Stages of the adaptation of a new employee

1. orientation

Usually this takes place during the probationary period. The employee gets acquainted with the goals and objectives of the company, the corporate culture and the team. He analyzes whether his expectations and career goals are in line with those offered by the employer, and decides whether to stay with the organization.

The employer, on the other hand, evaluates potential capabilities and professional competencies to see if the employee is a good fit for the position. Depending on the decision made, the HR department prepares paperwork to hire or terminate the new employee.

2. Adjustment

This stage lasts from one month to one year. Its duration depends on the complexity of the work, the anticipated level of responsibility, and the assistance provided to the employee by colleagues, subordinates, management, and personnel services. The fastest adaptation of storekeepers (27 days), office managers and secretaries this process takes 46-47 days. Sales managers, accountants, and executives take 80-82 days to adjust to a new workplace. Programmers take the longest to adapt (102 days), and HR managers (100 days).


The employee is accepted by the team and is well aware of his place in the team. His efficiency increases. At this stage the employee can determine which tasks are important and priority, and which are routine.

Previously, (now conducted a survey “Who more often helps a newcomer to fit into the new team and learn new tasks faster” and here are the results:

The adaptation of new employees: how to speed up

Hiring an employee is a long and complicated procedure. The employee has not yet started his or her duties, and financial and time resources have already been invested in him or her. Any employer is interested in making sure that the adaptation of new employees takes place as quickly as possible. What can be done to accomplish this:

1. Develop an adaptation plan.

This is a manual for the human resources department and the newcomer’s supervisor that outlines step-by-step activities to get the employee up to speed. This can include:

  • An introductory tour. This should not be neglected, often an employee is shy to ask where the canteen or break room is.
  • Internal rules and norms: work and rest mode, rules for using a cell phone during working hours, schedule of meetings and team-building events, dress code accepted in the company.
  • Employee hiring: signing the employment contract, issuing a hiring order, making a record in the workbook.
  • Acquainting the employee with how information is exchanged in the company: via messengers, mail or with a CRM-system, as well as issuing a login and password for the corporate e-mail.

Any company develops, and regulations change along with it, so the plan should be periodically updated: remove unnecessary information and add new ones.

2. 2. carry out education or training.

These may be events designed for the training of new employees or general classes for all employees. They can be individual or group, for example, a ready-made introductory video course in the corporate training system.

3. Attach a mentor.

It is to the mentor that a new employee can ask any questions about work organization, communication with other departments and other important nuances.

4. Establish communication with direct supervisor

A newcomer should receive feedback from his supervisor. It may be worth setting aside a special time for this, when you can ask all the questions and get feedback on your work. It is important for the supervisor to pay attention to signs of maladaptation in the employee’s behavior:

  • Decreased ability to work over the last time;
  • poor relations with the team;
  • disregard of the norms of corporate culture;
  • violation of discipline;
  • dependence on the tutor or the head;
  • loss of motivation.

5. Include the newcomer in the team life

It is necessary to introduce the new employee to the staff, tell them what his duties will include, what questions they can ask him about. If the organization is large, it is better to duplicate this information in an e-mail newsletter.

Team building events are also suitable for this. A newcomer can prove himself or herself in sports or creative projects. Not everyone is ready to get actively involved in corporate life right away, but if a person shows initiative – you should give him the opportunity.

Anna Leonova , employee of motivation and adaptation department of ICL Services:

“A new job is always stressful, whether you’re a senior or an intern. A new team, office, responsibilities, or processes are all potential risks that the newcomer won’t like and will leave for another company. That’s why organizations do everything they can to minimize these risks. At ICL Services, new employee onboarding is fine-tuned. We understand that the less time it takes for a new hire to settle in, the faster and more effective he or she will be able to start working and bring value to the business. The first thing a new employee sees after joining HR is his mentor. Mentoring program lasts for 3 months and helps a new employee to socialize in a team. There is always someone nearby who will tell how to use the internal portal, how to apply for training, who to address on a business issue or where the canteen is. ICL Services won the prestigious IT HR Awards for this program. The portal is studied, the rookie kit is on the desk, the equipment is received, and the first email arrives in the mail. In it, the employee sees that he or she has been welcomed into his or her new position. By the way, all colleagues also receive a mailing with a photo of the newcomer, to understand what kind of team he works in. Introductory training tells about the work of all departments of the company, about social responsibility, processes and projects. Heads of departments and top managers come here to talk live about the company’s mission, what is here and why. Such training is held as the group is recruited. To make it easier to understand the unofficial rules of conduct in the open space, the company has developed a comic book, which explains what is good and what is not. We also have an electronic adaptation course. It shows the employee what training he or she has to go through and what information to learn, so that the work becomes clearer and easier. After the probationary period, the employee undergoes a 360 evaluation, which is designed to evaluate their progress during this period. The employee is evaluated by his supervisor, colleagues with whom he or she has worked, and, of course, by himself or herself. It should always be remembered that two parties are involved in hiring and adaptation. And the newcomer also evaluates the company when he comes here. If he couldn’t adapt, that’s the company’s problem.

To summarize

Adaptation cannot be seen as a process of learning a new job. It implies immersion of the employee in a new environment, understanding of the rules of conduct, interaction in the team, acceptance of corporate norms, and setting up relationships with colleagues and partners.

The process of adaptation is mutual: the organization evaluates the employee and the employee evaluates the organization. The search for a suitable specialist, especially a highly qualified one, takes a lot of time, so every employer is interested in getting an employee to start working as quickly as possible with maximum efficiency and to be useful.

Adaptation of new employees can go differently: somewhere a newcomer is thrown into the thick of things, hoping that he will figure it out by himself; somewhere is treated with care, so that the stress experienced by the employee would be minimal.

It is important to understand that the duration of adaptation does not coincide with the duration of the probationary period; it can take up to four months or more. A developed adaptation plan, a mentor, a training system and corporate training can all help to speed it up.

Adapting to a new team: Stages and popular mistakes

Adaptation in a new team is the process of adapting to the rules and norms that have developed within this group, as well as to the individual characteristics of each employee. In addition, adaptation in the labor collective involves the regulation of the individual’s behavior, according to the “internal kitchen” of the group and the work activities of a particular organization. How not to become an outcast and not to lose your uniqueness – let’s deal.

How much time is necessary

The adaptation period is different for everyone. On average, to adapt to life in a new team takes a year and a half at first employment, and from 1.5 months to a year for re-employment. However, if a new employee is assigned a mentor and/or the management organizes training sessions and games for group cohesion, adaptation is faster. In that case it can take from several weeks to six months.

Stages of assimilation of a specialist in a new team

Adaptation to a new group takes place in four stages:

  1. Orientation. At this stage the new employee actively learns professional duties, team requirements, norms and rules of life in the group. He gets acquainted with working conditions, routines and work schedules. The task of this stage is to learn as much as possible about the organization and its activities. Understanding all the intricacies of work will give the employee self-confidence and a sense of security. At the same stage the new employee learns the informal relations in the group. In this, as in the case with mastering job duties, observation will help – study the behavior of the old-timers of the team.
  2. Adaptation. Enough observing – it’s time to act. Put into practice what you have learned from your colleagues. This applies to both formal and informal relationships. Try to remember your colleagues’ names and address them by their first names and with a smile.
  3. Assimilation. The stage of full assimilation of the norms and rules of the organization, formal and informal relations in the group, work duties, etc.
  4. Identification. It is a stage of the maximum approximation to work. The goals of the collective coincide with the goals of the employee, common needs correspond to individual interests. All contradictions, problems and difficulties disappear, a stable work process is launched.

Please note: adaptation in the new team is an inevitable stage of employment. Sometimes it seems that nothing will work, that the person will not cope, that it will not be better. This is not true. If you follow the recommendations of psychologists, take care of your health, know the peculiarities of the adaptation process, everything will be fine.

Psychological secrets of adaptation of new employees in the team

So, how to adapt to a new job in a new team? Let’s analyze the psychological secrets of adaptation in the new team according to the stages that we have already considered:

  1. First stage. Clarify and ask as much as possible. Nothing should be neglected. For example, find out how lunches are held, is it customary in the team to bring something from home for everyone (cookies, bread, a full meal). Find out where the printer, the cooler, this or that documentation is located, etc. Find out who to contact and what questions to ask. The same goes for professional activities: if you don’t understand something – ask, if you have doubts or can’t figure something out – specify. Do not rely on general advice and general instructions, ask the questions that are exactly in your case will help you quickly adapt to the work process. Write down the answers so that you don’t get lost in the great flow of information.
  2. Second step. Do not compare your new colleagues and your new workplace to your old workplace. Adhere to the style of communication and behavior that is accepted in the organization. Show initiative, participate in group activities, but don’t openly compete or overly express your ambitions. Be friendly and responsive, while maintaining personal boundaries and letting others know that you have them. Maintain self-respect and self-control.
  3. Third and fourth step. Actively participate in the work activities of the group. Remember that a person can fully realize himself and enjoy his work only if his personal needs, interests and goals coincide with the common goals, interests and needs of the team, the organization in which he works.

This is important! Correct questions about the substance of the job will demonstrate your interest. Don’t be afraid or shy, ask anything that is important to your inclusion in the work process.

Common Mistakes

In adapting, don’t make someone else’s mistakes:

  • Passivity – as we said before, ask, clarify, get acquainted (otherwise others will think that you are indifferent to the work and the team);
  • pannibalism – activity and initiative should not be equal to impudence and insolence, do not be in a hurry to get personal
  • disregard of rules – concerns both vowel and unvowel, but well-established rules about the official or unofficial life of the team.

How do you know if you have successfully profited?

How do you know that you have adapted to the new team? Adapted employee feels his value as a professional and belonging, belonging to something big and common. In turn, the team realizes and recognizes the value of the employee, respects his contribution. At the same time the work itself satisfies the employee, corresponds to his outlook and interests. He sees his development, his future within this organization, the field of work.

What else indicates successful completion of adaptation? The employee understands, accepts and shares the corporate culture of the company. He has a consistently good relationship with the team. The job meets the requirements of the employee, and the employee meets the requirements of the job on three levels: the job itself, business relations (formal), and interpersonal relations (informal).

Adapting to a new team – tips from a psychologist

General recommendations on adapting to a new work team:

  • do not try to please everyone;
  • look out for your colleagues (someone will be close in spirit, someone will be a neutral character, and someone you might not like or you will not like him – this is normal);
  • Keep a friendly-neutral attitude;
  • Don’t try to be the soul of the company;
  • Don’t give up your value system, beliefs, or attitudes (even “outwardly”);
  • develop a psychological flexibility and sense of humor, study conflictology (you must be prepared for the fact that the team is wary of you – there may be conflicts);
  • Arrange your workplace to suit you, but within the concept of the organization.

What to do if colleagues or management snapped at you, criticized you, scolded you? Calmly thank for the remark, take into account all that was said and correct the mistake. Also, politely remind them that you are going through an adjustment process. You will need time to sort things out, and the help of more experienced and wiser workers. If conflicts arise, resolve them right away, don’t keep them quiet.

When adapting in a team it is important to demonstrate your independence, integrity, uniqueness. If you don’t smoke, you shouldn’t go to the smoking room with everyone else “for company. You don’t need to say that you like soccer and try to discuss it between work if you don’t. Remain yourself, but also be respectful of other people.

Adapting to a new team is stressful for both the new employee and the team. A team is a system. It, like any other system, seeks stability, so everything new is perceived as a danger. You have to be prepared for challenges, tests from the group. But this does not mean that you have to attack first – be tactful and restrained.

My Experience of Adapting to a New Team

I didn’t really have to deal with adjusting to a new environment and team. After graduation I went freelance (freelancing remotely). However, during my studies I worked as a part-time consultant in a shoe store. About this experience of adaptation in a group (female collective) and I will tell.

What I had to face in practice:

  • The team really wants stability and is wary of the new person (saved by the fact that with me they took another new employee, but the old-timers kept apart);
  • you really need to take the initiative and find out everything yourself (they help and answer willingly, basic instructions are not enough);
  • there are public and unspoken rules in the team (you should watch and learn them).

As you can see, everything we talked about earlier, waited for me too. In general, adaptation was successful. The excitement was gradually passing, understanding of the work came. Professional adaptation was quicker than the socio-psychological adaptation. But there were no problems with the latter either.

At first, like everyone else, there were misunderstandings, but they were resolved on the spot. The team was getting used to me, I was getting used to the team. But the full completion of adaptation is not to talk about, because for me it was just a part-time job. I knew that I would not work here all my life, so I did not see my future within the organization, in this business. So the last stage (identification) I never reached.

By the way, a great tip to make it easier to get acquainted (we haven’t mentioned this yet) – on the first or second day offer to get together as a team, when and where it will be convenient for everyone, to get acquainted closer. Treat your colleagues to something, but first clarify what suits everyone. Suggest outside of the work process and the hustle and bustle to socialize with each other.


Adaptation to the new team involves building relationships with new colleagues, mastering work duties and organizational moments in the work. That is, a person is waiting for professional and socio-psychological adaptation. In this case the employee should remember that not only he/she studies the team, but the team studies him/her.

It is important to ensure that colleagues have a positive first impression of the new employee. And as a professional as well as a person. However, this does not mean that you have to please, blindly obey, suppress and change yourself. It is important and necessary to maintain their uniqueness, but you can not in the first days of acquaintance show your worst side.

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