I'm starting the new year with a new job. What suggestions do you have for me to get off on the right foot with my new team?
Energy, enthusiasm and openness to new ideas will send a good message to your team.
The inner game
Some new managers come in so eager to make their mark that they run over people and miss the good things that are already happening. Others are too passive, avoiding making changes needed to meet the organization's goals. Before you walk in the door, know what you'd like to achieve in relationship-building.
Take what you've been hired to accomplish and map out possible steps you'll need to take. Then, organize your thoughts on what you need to learn from your team members to be successful. Include the characteristics of the team that need to be in place to meet your goals.
You'll also need to understand your own style. As a leader, how do you approach people? What has worked for you to build effective teams? Where have you fallen short? How can you use this new role as a chance to grow as a leader?
The outer game
As one of your first tasks, schedule individual "get acquainted" meetings with your team. It's a two-way conversation, so share some information about yourself and your view of your new role.
Ask each person about themselves, their strengths and goals, and their views of the department's strengths and weaknesses. Gather information about the chain of command, as well as past practices in making decisions and gathering and sharing information.
You should develop a similar understanding about your boss. Likewise, make a point of getting to know your peers.
Be a good listener. Put yourself in the position of the team; it can be stressful to have an outsider come in as the new leader. Hearing their perspectives will be reassuring to them and will help you check out your assumptions and avoid mistakes.
After your "listening tour", draw up an agenda for team action. Identify staffing strengths and gaps, along with plans to address the gaps. Outline your annual team goals with milestones to meet them. If there are preexisting issues that you've been brought in to address, present your perspective concerning them forthrightly and nonjudgmentally, but with an eye toward action.
Stay regularly connected with team members to assess progress and watch for trouble spots. Maintain a direct and open communication style.
The last word
Make this your chance to develop the working relationships that best serve you and your team.
Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.