While not long ago we worked in the same office or production group for years at a time, now it’s all changed. Almost everyone is now a member of a team, a project, a matrix organization or a work group whose members change as often as every few months or once a year. Where once we were employed at only four or five companies in a lifetime, now we change jobs every four or five years. People with long tenure in any company are rare, whatever their position or skill.

Building trust and acceptance between associates in such fast-changing groups is difficult, especially when the members themselves represent such diverse disciplines and cultures. Yet, we can only hope for success if we learn to work together harmoniously in an environment that encourages trust and acceptance.

People, no matter how bright they are, cannot perform at their best if they do not feel accepted by the group. The impediments to acceptance and trust are formidable for new arrivals. There are usually team-elders, close-knit with one another for months or longer, who form an inner elite circle of their own. These insiders are often wary of newcomers as a threat to their well-being or security, whatever their credentials.

Every member of a team has an important role in genuinely welcoming newcomers in a warm and accepting way. Each member of the existing or original group should personally go out of their way to avoid the “We” versus “They,” small group clusters that serve to separate those who have been on the team for some time from those just joining.

They should discipline themselves to listen and hear out new members. Unless all are under the same umbrella, mutual trust and acceptance between all team members will not be fostered. Creativity will suffer. Whatever project the team was organized to accomplish will not be done.

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