Welcoming to the fold

Jackson Moore
from South Africa, living in France

Hello everyone! Today, we are going to talk about welcoming new judges “to the fold.” In case you aren’t aware of the project, there is a project called “Welcome to the Fold” that points out new judges during staff parties after GPs, gives them a promo and makes sure everyone knows who they are. This is a great thing. Given that GP teams are crawling with veterans whom most veterans know, it is important to point out who is new, who is one of us now.

There is, however, an issue with this: newcomers are acknowledged at the end of an event, meaning that some/lots/all of them have spent the weekend knowing no-one but their team lead. They have not bonded as we have, they have not had an experience like we’ve had. Yes, it’s the first GP, it’s overwhelming. It does not have to be.

This begs the question: how can we improve on this welcoming experience? Well, it so happens that we have most of the tools for this already available and in place, just unused.

Item 1, HJ messages: a common practice is for there to be an introduction thread in the event forum where judges and staff can say a bit about who they are. It is daunting for new judges to introduce themselves, more so when “giants” have gone first. When an unfamiliar name makes an introduction, take a note of it.
Item 2, the staff list: we have a list of all staff members and, thanks to the wonders of JudgeApps, we have the ENTIRE EVENT HISTORY of everyone on staff. Remember that name you just took note of? Click on that judge’s name. Is it their first GP? Their second? Either way, it’s time to make a new friends.
Item 3, email: have you clicked on that judge’s name yet? Good. Now click on “send email.” You’re doing great. Now I know this can be a challenge, but… Write something. Here’s an example of what you can write:

“Hi John! I see that GP [So-and-so] is going to be your first! I was wondering if you wanted to meet up during the event, maybe have a chat during a lunch break or play some of the judge sealed pool together. Maybe some [insert favorite format] if you’re interested?

Feel free to ask any questions you might have about GPs on the staff side!

Kind regards,
[first name]”

You have my permission to use this exact template but I believe all of you are capable of doing more than that. Have some fun with it!

Now, let’s assume you did not have time to prepare any of this. You haven’t found a new judge, you haven’t sent an email. That’s okay, it happens. You can still make a difference on the day.

As daunting as it may be, you can just go strike up a conversation with someone new. We’re judges, we are in the business of being welcoming and friendly. Don’t take offense if someone does not want to talk: not everyone wants a chat before their shift starts, not everyone is ready to add a new encounter to a new situation; and this should not be held against them either.

In summary, say hi to a new staff member. Invite someone sitting alone in the break room to join your table. Include them. Make them feel welcome, make them want to come back. Be someone’s hero, if only for a short time. As a great judge once told me: “make a difference.”

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