4 things new team leaders should do first
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Becoming the new leader of a team is like venturing into unknown territory: no journey is complete without assuming risks and making bold decisions. The first meeting, for example, can be a truly daunting event where your new colleagues expect you to say all the right things.
To make those first-time impressions as beneficial as possible, you need to connect with the team and let them know you’re the kind of person they like.
How exactly do you do that? Read on for some ideas.
1. Assess the Readiness of the Team for Change
If you’d like to implement some comprehensive changes in your new team, think twice before giving orders. The team members might not be ready for a quick change, so they will resist it as much as they can. To be able to get on board with new proposals and initiatives, they need to understand your reasons and goals, which is impossible without trust and rapport.
After you think that the trust is there (see the tips on that in the next section), don’t rush to implement and manage comprehensive changes at once. A better way is to pace yourself and divide the change project into small actions that consider the team’s true readiness to change.
2. Establish Trust
As a new leader coming into a company, you must have a vision for the future of the company and the team. To make that vision a reality, you need to make relationships with every team member work, which is impossible without establishing mutual trust.
That’s why having a clear understanding of how you can build trust with the team is tremendously important for you. Don’t bother with creating business goals for the next couple of months, that’s not what it’s all about during the first couple of days.
Instead, the main goals for your team meeting should be:
- Showing that you’re a humble person who is ready to learn and listen to others
- Showing that you’re a leader, not a manager
- Showing that you’re someone who’s worth their trust and time.
One-on-one meetings are also a great idea, and we’ll talk about them in the next section. The leader can assimilate observations and experiences into a written review; however, instead of the traditional structure, the team evaluation should be summarized as follows:
- The employee thinks that we need to improve in area 1
- The employee needs help in advancing their skills in area 1 and area 2.
- The employee has a good reputation as a creative problem-solver.
3. Invest Your Time into Getting to Know Your Team
One mistake that some leaders do is wait for people to come and meet them. This approach won’t work simply because you’re creating a harmful image for yourself by not seeking people out and hiding from them. Would you be interested in meeting a leader who clearly shows no interest in you?
Sir Richard Branson is one of the best examples of a leaders who follows the philosophy of putting the needs of the staff first. In fact, he thinks that employees, not customers, should be on the top of the business priority list for every company.
“My philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and yourself are happy,” says Branson in this Inc. interview.
Start getting to know your team by simply walking around and having conversations. This would be a great sign that shows you’re the kind of leader who is humble enough to take the first step to build trust.
“Apart from team meetings, also have brief one-on-one meetings to get to know each team member individually,” advises Aneta Gostkowski, the head of the content department at All Top Reviews. “Not only this helps with getting a better idea of how to manage them but it also gives an opportunity to learn about their strengths, weaknesses, and career goals.”
4. Find out How the Team Likes to Give and Receive Feedback
Doing so has two major benefits. First, each employee prefers to give and receive feedback in a certain way, which is something you should respect as a new leader. So, one of the first things to do during your introductory meetings with the new team is to find out how they want to share feedback.
Second, the process of feedback sharing might be a bit intimidating to some employees, so you can reduce the tension by asking about their preferences. For example, you might find out that your team members are more comfortable with providing some feedback via anonymous surveys and getting their accomplishments checked via skills assessment software rather than open meetings, which is something you have to respect.
Moreover, personalizing the feedback process might also provide the best opportunity for the team to give honest and full feedback.
These days, it’s uncommon for new leaders to step in and take over established teams. Whether the change of the leader is an anticipating or a feared event, some resistance and lack of interest from the teams are typically a part of the deal.
To make a good first impression and let your new team know that you’re the kind of person they can trust, consider taking these four steps. Remain friendly, open, and patient throughout the process, and don’t anticipate a smooth transition.
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