Team Dynamics for New Hires:

Written by Abhay Joshi

Written in 2008


For young professionals starting their careers, one of the biggest challenges in the first one or two years is dealing with the dynamics of a professional team environment. They bring a variety of practices and prejudices from their college days, some of which need to be discarded or modified. Following is an attempt to analyze the goals of such newcomers and the challenges they face, and offer a few suggestions on overcoming these challenges.


It is also important for managers to be aware of these challenges that their young team members face.


  1. Professional satisfaction: growth, learning
  2. Personal happiness: friendship, cooperation, comfortable environment


  1. Competition: carryover from school/college, need to prove attitude
  2. Insecurity: are others going ahead, am I losing opportunities
  3. Confusion between personal and professional relationships: is she just a colleague or friend, is he friend or manager?
  4. Dealing with bias: for example: men thinking women cannot perform certain tasks.

Suggested rules:

  1. Follow the Ubuntu philosophy: (from Wikipedia) A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others; he/she affirms others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. The implications of this philosophy are:
    1. Avoid ‘showing off’ in meetings, or running your colleagues down, or trying to run solo.
    2. Be honest about your true competency level.
    3. Instead of competing, focus on “continuous self-improvement”.
    4. Participate in group activities. Being professional doesn’t mean being ‘stiff’.
  2. Show ‘respect’ first: people have weak spots, recognize them and guard. For example, teasing anyone based on physical looks, eating habits, dressing style, talking style, his/her relationships, should be strictly avoided.
  3. Show ‘affection’ only outside the office: There is nothing wrong in making friends (even ‘special’) out of colleagues, but do not pollute the sanctity of the office – which is only for achieving professional goals – yours and the employer’s.
  4. Communicate: In case of discomfort or misunderstanding, talk immediately, honestly, and in private. It is better to have ‘known enemies’ than ‘unknown ghosts’. Constantly improve your communication skills.
  5. Avoid building exclusive clubs: Building ‘family-like’ environment is different from building ‘families’. Constantly build new bonds, reach out to new faces, cut across groups.
  6. Out of sight, out my mind: Colleagues will travel or change groups. Don’t follow them wherever they go. “Keeping in touch” is different from “stalking”.
  7. Balance between personal and professional lives: Avoid getting so attached to your workplace that you have no personal life. A healthy personal life (hobbies, relatives, friends, clubs, sports) acts as a great buffer from shocks in professional life. Try to have friends other than colleagues.
  8. Dealing with bias: Nothing works like performance. It is best to ignore subtle forms of bias, but any overt or open bias must be destroyed by first talking one-on-one, then reporting to manager, and finally reporting to HR.