How to Reinforce Your Successful Teambuilding Efforts with Summer Interns
School is out for the summer and many college students, hopeful to land a job now that hiring indications are more positive, have secured internships for the summer. How do you make this a successful teambuildingsolution for your team and a rewarding experience for the intern?
Leaders of companies anchored by team culture principles know how important it is to "onboard" a new team member into a company. Careful selection following by a systemized process helps new employees adapt to the culture and learn their roles and responsibilities in a carefully orchestrated set of sequences designed to optimize everyone's success.
When deploying a similar approach with interns, leaders have an opportunity to try out new talent and part ways at the end of the intern's tenure with an advocate who likely will have good things to say about the company. Ultimately this attracts new internship relationships and an opportunity to build the workforce with employees who culturally and strategically are the best fit.
Here are seven suggestions for optimizing your internship experience.
1. Identify Strategic Opportunities
Carefully identify strategic opportunities for interns who are schooled in social networking and research to analyze competitors' offerings, strategies, and systems so that your team has the information it needs to bring your workforce preparedness, systems and strategies in alignment for growth. By focusing your interns on analyzing the "other", the information they provide your team builds a sense of "us" and breaks down the natural tendency for interns to be pigeon holed as "the other" by your existing team. Should a job opening arise that is appropriate for this intern, you have already built your "we are us" relationship so that your team is ready to embrace this new hire with open minds and a sense of commitment.
2. Share Quality Information
Share as much quality information and data with the intern as possible. This should include information about your culture, how information and communication flows in your company and background context for their assignments as possible. In this way, your intern will know what works well for your team and what does not in order to minimize culturally inappropriate behavior, which will ultimately make more work for you. Be mindful and strategic in sharing information because the research results the intern ultimately provides you will only be as good as the quality of information and time investment you contribute.
3. Provide Context
Provide background information and context on the project they are contributing to. Explain the goals you hope to achieve and listen to the feedback you receive from the intern. Make this a dialogue so that you have a clear picture of what the intern understands before you let her loose on a project. Interns are no different from employees who become more engaged when they understand how their efforts contribute to the big picture and operational goals and who have confidence has they proceed to achieve those goals.
4. Develop Norms and Procedure Background
Provide background information on your team's norms and procedures so that what the intern provides flows naturally into your team's dynamic. From a human motivation perspective, there's nothing more frustrating and more defeating than to feel like you don't have access to the information you need to do your job or make decisions.
Continually coach the intern through this process on a weekly basis to avoid incidences of procedural conflict which can frustrate your existing team's goals. If the intern is to provide information to your team during team meetings, explain how your meetings are run and how information is shared so that procedural misunderstandings are avoided.
5. Debrief Accomplished Goals
As goals are achieved, debrief the process with your interns so there is awareness of the role they played in achieving goals. Learn what worked well for them. Ask them what their observations were about the process. Ask them what they felt about the process. Then ask them how they are going to apply what they learned to future goal achievement either with you or as their careers unfold. This will help the intern become an advocate for your company and to realize the wealth of opportunity you provided for their career advancement.
The debriefing also provides you with information on how to streamline your future internship offerings. And, if your intentions are to cross train your existing employees into leadership roles, interns provide a ripe guidance, training and development opportunity for these leaders giving you double value for your effort.
6. Hold Progress Meetings
Hold regular progress meetings to check on how things are going. If the intern has run into problems, you can correct them quickly by providing coaching, support and guidance.
7. Invite Insights
Ask your interns for their thoughts and ideas and listen carefully. They provide out-of-the-box observations and insights coupled with dynamic research that could help you launch new innovations or refine your goals.
Approaching internships from this collaborative perspective provides a rich experience for interns and a wealth of information for your team. And should job openings arise that fit the intern's credentials and experience, a good portion of your on-boarding procedures have already been satisfied.