Over my career, I’ve joined several new teams and orgs — I’m on my 5th team at Meta alone.
When you start a new team, investing time in meeting your direct counterparts and your broader cross-functional partners is critical to long-term success — there’s no short cut to building the relationships that you’ll need to operate effectively.
When you’re at larger companies or in more senior roles, the number of people to meet can be large, so you need a framework to help you manage the scale.
Over time, I’ve developed a simple set of 5 questions that I ask everyone I meet when I join a new team.
- Who are you?
- What are you working on?
- What are we not working on that you think we should be?
- How can I help you?
- Give me the names of two more people to meet.
- Helps you you get to know the person. Dig into their career history. How long have they been here? Where did they work before? What are the things they’re most proud of? What do they do outside work?
- This gets to their role right now and how that might intersect with yours. You should also test explicitly for their “why”. Not only is this useful for your own context-building, it’s especially valuable if different people give different “whys” for the same thing. If you hear that, it suggests there’s a context or strategy gap that needs to be closed.
- This, I find, to be really useful in understanding if people feel they’re working on the wrong things, and/or to understand people’s ideas about what should be next.
- For example, when I worked on Integrity at Meta, most “problem” teams were focussed in detecting and removing bad content and account. This is all after the bad thing has happened. But in my intro conversations, several people felt we should be investing more in prevention, moving up-funnel to prevent bad experiences happening in the first place. A year or so, we founded a team to do just this.
- When you join a new team, you need to build credibility – in your head you may come with all this experience and should be respected from day 1. Spoiler alert: not true. Building credibility is about delivering things for people — and this question gets at what people’s expectations are of you. I’ve found this has helped me orientate quickly to were I can have the most impact. If three people say the same thing, and you can do that thing, you can build a lot of credibility quickly.
- Your manager might give you a list, but it’ll be missing recall. This question helps you plug the recall gap. Eventually, people will only give you names of people you’ve already met – and that’s when you know your round of onboarding 1:1s is done.
This might seem like a simple idea – but for me, realising there were a common set of questions I could ask in these meet and greets reduced my anxiety (“oh man, what am I gonna say to them?”) and made for much more effective conversations.