I cannot emphasize enough the importance of new member orientation. It doesn’t matter what group it is – club, work, church – it is very important to make sure new members know what a group is all about so they feel welcomed and can participate easily in discussion and group activity.
One of the sections we sometimes talk about in training is simply called Group Process. It talks about the needs of groups to take care of their business and the work of their everyday jobs but it also talks about the social needs and how important they are. The social needs refer to individuals feeling like they belong to the group and are comfortable. Sometimes, people refer to these as the “warm fuzzies” and prefer to ignore them or think less of these needs or mock them. DO NOT DO THAT!
If you are to have a successful group process, any committee including labor-management, it is vitally important to bring new members up to speed as quickly as possible.
It would be good for a couple of members who have been on the committee to sit down with a new member and review why the committee was started, what it’s purpose or mission is, what work the committee does, provide some minutes so the new member knows some committee history or knows about recent meetings, and a list of committee members and their contact information is good, too. There could be other things but that provides a start.
I will never forget one meeting a group had with their first new member in sometime. This group had gone through labor-management committee training and they had become an excellent committee in labor-management cooperation. The new member was still in the adversarial position of labor-management relations and could not connect with the rest of the group. Every time he spoke in their meeting, he talked in traditional labor-management language which caused every member to get very quiet and just look at him for a very long time. Needless to say, that new member did not last because he had not been told what the committee was all about. The committee lost a good member with great ideas and he probably did not support the committee. It wasn’t much longer the committee decided orientation for new members was needed.
Not many committees do orientations but if you want to have a great committee, make sure you sit down with new members before they start and talk to them about the committee and its work.