It’s Lonely Being The Rookie On A Veteran Team

Selflessness defined: Putting the needs of others before my own needs, desires or convenience.

When you are the rookie on the team, it can be intimidating. When the team has a track record of success, there is a lot of pressure for the rookie to perform well and do it quickly. High performing teams want to keep winning. They also understand how a rookie can add to a winning culture or damage it.

Many of the rookies I hired faced this very situation. When I went through a hiring process—I was diligent to make sure it was the right fit. I made sure to meet with the candidate multiple times before hiring them. I even had veteran members of our team spend time with them so I could get insight and feedback from their perspective. I wanted to make sure the potential hire was right for our team. Who better to help me know that—than the team? After the candidate made it through the process, they were hired and immediately sent to our company’s corporate headquarters for training.

Our training wasn’t a four-hour, blanket HR PowerPoint presentation. No. It was an eight-week, intensive series of courses which included homework, testing and role play. After the fanfare of being hired, the rookie left their home and family to live in a hotel for eight weeks. This proved to be a difficult time for many people. Many of them were isolated and stressed. Not to mention, the training environment was intense. The trainers warned them over and over again about the difference between the training world and “the real world.” To top it off, our teams were often spread across multiple states. This meant that when the rookie finally got out of training, they may not meet the majority of their teammates for months at the first scheduled team meeting.

Over time, I realized this program was not good for the rookie or for our veteran team. Such isolation slowed the growth of the rookie plus hurt the culture and morale of the team. The faster a new hire could assimilate into who we were as a team, the more likely they would be to ask for help and learn how to solve problems quickly.

As a result, we made a switch. To battle eight weeks of isolation, we implemented a check-in plan. We created a check in schedule for the veterans to call rookies while they were in training. Most of the times, veterans introduced themselves, got to know a little about the rookie, and then offered up their own war stories about training.

Do you know what happened? A quick bond was built. The rookies did not feel alone anymore. They realized they were going through what everyone else had gone through, and that they had people who were waiting to help them succeed once they hit the dreaded “real world.” In some cases, our veterans sent their own study notes to the rookies. In other cases, the veterans checked in on the rookie’s family.

These intentional moments were rarely convenient for the veterans. The rookies were in class all-day, and could only be reached at night. Do you know what that means? These conversations could only happen when veterans were home with their families. But thanks to the Selflessness of the veterans on our teams, they decided to put aside their own convenience and spend their personal time on the phone with the rookies. This program was a game changer for our new hires. The rookies even commented that they were the only individuals in training who received phone calls from teammates during those eight weeks. They told us it was highly motivating. It made them believe they were part of something special.

After training, those rookies started faster and performed better. Our teams also maintained an enviable track record of success, even though new people consistently came into the team. But do you know where it all started? It came from the Selflessness of the veterans. They remembered how lonely and anxious training could be. They knew how hard it could be to join a successful team. And they believed if they made those first months easier, the team would continue a great culture, have high morale and maintain the winning streak. What was the source? It all went back to their willingness to exercise Selflessness.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • What would happen if your rookies assimilated faster than rookies on other teams?

  • How can you help your rookies assimilate faster?


Exercising Selflessness takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Selflessness daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.

To make it easy to keep the definition of Selflessness visible on your screens and devices, we would like to share our FREE Selflessness backgrounds for desktop and mobile available for download at: https://www.becomingaleaderofcharacter.com/tools-resources

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