Friday, January 16, 2015

The Things a New Team Manager Should Do First


When you join a team as its leader, either taking over an existing team or starting a new one, it generally creates some nervousness. Everyone wants to know what you’re going to change and where you’re going to take the direction of the team.

Your actions in the first few weeks can have a major impact on whether your team ultimately delivers results. Unfortunately some new leaders skip over the basics of team building.

Communicate
Be as open and transparent about what you’re thinking as quickly as possible. You can start by outlining your 30-day plan. While you may not yet have opinions specific to the business, you can tell people what you want to learn about and evaluate. You may not yet know your strategy, but you can certainly talk about your values, priorities, and observations. The more transparent you can be, the more comfortable people will feel being candid with you.

Figure out What People Really Want to do
Meet with all of your direct reports individually for at least an hour within your first week. Ask them about what they really enjoy doing and what they aspire to be doing in the next 2 to 3 years. It can often be the case that the role the individual is in today is not necessarily fully utilizing their skills or motivating them to be their absolute best. Being genuinely interested in what’s going on within the organization builds credibility, and generally makes you more approachable.

Get Your Hands Dirty
Spend time doing the work that your team actually does. Not only does this help establish you as someone who leads by example, but you also learn first-hand about all of the different challenges that people experience every day. If you can understand what it’s fundamentally like to be on the front lines of your team, you have the perspective when making larger strategic decisions and communicating them to your team.

Be Decisive
Once you have a good lay of the land, explicitly lay out your vision and then plan to start moving toward it. People feel less unrest when they understand the bigger picture and can see where things are heading. This is often the hardest thing to do when you’re new, and can be difficult to recover from if you don’t do it.


Getting people to work together can be a challenge. And, being new is rarely easy. But if you take the time to get to know your team, chances are they will follow you when you step up and lead.


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David Schuchman

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