Just like any team, it is tremendously important to on-board new members to a CEO peer group. I believe effectively integrating new members into the group is one of the most important things that we do. I want the new member to know the rules and norms of the group. I also want the new member to feel welcome.
Have you ever been to a party where you didn’t know anyone? It is a bit of a painful experience. It might be a rocky start until you strike up that first conversation with someone. If all goes well, by the end of the evening you might find yourself having a great time.
In the context of a CEO peer group, I want to make that process go as smoothly as possible. First, I ask my existing members to welcome new guests. I like to see existing members stand up, walk across the room and greet new members. I make an effort to introduce the guest personally to each member. I look for areas of overlap and areas of interest that might be conversation starters.
When a member joins my CEO group, I schedule time for dialog so that the new member gets to know the group and the group gets to know the member too. Here is an exercise that I find to be effective in creating two-way dialog:
- I ask each member to ask the new person a question
- I then ask the member to answer that question themselves
- Finally, I ask the new member if there are any questions that he/she has for the group as a whole or any particular person in the group
This allows the members to ask the questions on their minds. (How long have you been in business? How many employees do you have? How did you get started in the business? What are your biggest challenges? What are your goals for the year?) At the same time, it causes the existing members to share as much as they ask. My goal is to create an atmosphere in which deep dialog can occur without making the new person feel like he/she is in the hot-seat!