A group of employees in business casual clothes sit and stand around a wooden table in a large room. Two of the men at the table are standing and shaking hands; the rest of their coworkers look up at them and smile.
A meeting may be the first time your team meets its newest member, but it shouldn't be the first time your employees are hearing about a new hire. — Getty Images/fizkes

Inviting a new employee to a meeting takes some forethought. You want the person to feel welcome and comfortable enough to begin contributing to the conversation. But you may also want to avoid putting the new employee on the spot, and you’re likely trying to respect everyone’s time by sticking to an agenda.

Asking each attendee to introduce themselves can quickly derail the meeting, especially when many team members are still working remotely. Here are some ideas to help you plan ahead.

Introduce the new team member before the meeting

Whether it’s the new employee’s first or tenth day, make sure each participant is aware that the new team member has joined the company. Send around a short bio with the person’s role, key responsibilities, and one or two details about their experience and interests. This saves the new team member from having to reintroduce themselves in every meeting they attend.

Book additional time for intros

Hopefully, you’re already using meeting agendas to keep each working session on track. Agendas help participants prepare for the discussion and focus on the important outcomes that need to be achieved by the end of the meeting.

[Read more: 5 Tips for Leading Productive Remote Meetings]

When you send around the meeting agenda, include 10 minutes for introductions on behalf of your existing employees. Invite your new employee to share more about themselves outside their bio, but only if they want to. Ideally, you’ll avoid putting anyone on the spot. Help your team prepare by writing in the meeting agenda what they should expect to say — and keep it limited to the basics, such as their names and positions to be mindful of time.

Provide the new team member with context

Attending a meeting as a new employee can feel like jumping in the deep end. It may be intimidating for a new team member to contribute to the conversation, given that they haven’t been working at the company for very long.

Prep your new team member ahead of time with the context for the meeting. This context can include details about the work project, their role vis-a-vis other members of the company, and what they will be expected to deliver in time. For instance, if the meeting is about a new marketing campaign, provide details about the goal of the campaign, the marketing agency brief, and the brand guidelines.

[Read more: Welcome! Onboarding New Employees Is Key To Hiring Success]

Whether it’s the new employee’s first or tenth day, make sure each participant is aware that the new team member has joined the company.

Make yourself available for a follow-up call

A new employee is likely to have some questions about the meeting, especially if they’re new to the discussion. Make yourself available for 10 to 15 minutes following the call for the person to ask you anything.

This one-on-one time also gives space for introverts or shy employees to share their thoughts. Meetings — especially those held over video — tend to favor dominant personalities. Someone may be too embarrassed to share their idea or may not be able to get a word in edgewise. Until a new employee is comfortable butting in, you want to make sure their ideas and thoughts are still being heard.

Create alternate space for socializing

Some remote workers report feeling lonely. It can be difficult to get to know your coworkers if you’re only interacting over video during meeting sessions. Provide the option for new remote team members to get to know the rest of the group in casual video sessions, no agenda necessary.

One way to do this? Plan icebreakers that aren’t lame. Invite employees to participate in team-building sessions during which the goal is simply to get to know one another. For example, you can play “Guess who?” by sending around a survey of lighthearted questions — think things like “​​If you had a pet zebra, what would you name it?” Employees can submit answers anonymously and guess who had which response.

Onboarding a new employee takes time. Be aware that not everyone will be comfortable in meetings right off the bat. Find ways to facilitate their transition into team calls and working sessions using thoughtful preparation, creating one-on-one time, and being proactive about introductions.

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Published October 25, 2022