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New Teams Require More Informal Time

Shivani Sharma

Senior Engineering Manager at Slack

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Problem

A cultural shift tends to occur when you create a new team; be it through a merger, reorganization, or by simply having new members join your team.

Actions taken

There are different things you can do as a manager and leader to rally the troops.

I like to start by having a team lunch, or if I find myself with a bigger budget, a small off-site activity that we can participate in. If you are sitting down for lunch somewhere, you can start with an icebreaker question if people really do not know each other. That can be something as simple as going around and sharing two, non-obvious, fun facts about each person.

For people who may be too shy for that, another good question I like to use is to have them say their name and it’s associated origin. This gets them to share something about their background and we all learn a bit more about that person.

There are a lot of online resources to use, but even the simple process of walking somewhere together gets people to start chatting with each other about random things on an informal level.

Lessons learned

  • It may seem simple, but sometimes increasing informal time together is not as obvious when coming from a smaller team. Most often because they have already done that within themselves. However, as a team begins to grow, you have to be more deliberate about it. That is a way to ensure people get back to functioning how they were in their previous teams.
  • If people know each other as human beings, rather than just coworkers, then they tend to talk to each other more often because they know more about one another.

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Shivani Sharma

Senior Engineering Manager at Slack


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