The Challenges Of Taking Over An Existing Team

As a manager, you may need to take over, or be hired on to manage, an existing team.  When you do, you will be on the outside looking in.  Your new team will have already gelled together and will have a clique mentality.  It is likely they will not be open to letting you in to their circle, and you will be expected to prove yourself.

You Might Have Big Shoes to Fill… Or Not

When you take over a team, you are replacing the previous leader.  That person may have been great, or not. Either way, the team made adjustments for that person’s style and now, here you are!  The most difficult thing for them will be accepting the change that is happening and embracing you as their new leader.  In addition, there may be a team member who was pursuing the position that you received, and they were not chosen.  In this case, be sympathetic to their disappointment and encourage them to continue striving toward their goals.

Get Familiar with What’s Expected

Familiarize yourself with your company’s mission and culture.  This will help you determine where the team fits in and its expectations.  In addition to your new responsibilities, you will have to learn your new team, and all their nuances.  There may be unfamiliar technology, or specific policies and procedures, you will need to become familiar with.  The best thing to do is jump in with both feet and get to work.

Hello, My Name is…

When joining a new company, introduce yourself to the other departments.  Ask what they expect of you, what challenges they may have had with the previous leadership, and how you can make things easier for them.  This helps develop relationships that will be most valuable during your transition.  They will be able to answer questions you may have and let you know when you are heading in the wrong direction.  You will need all the allies you can get when taking over a new team.

Get to Know the Members of the Team

Meet individually with each team member as soon as possible.  Give them a brief introduction of yourself, then allow them to speak.  Given the opportunity, your new team will enlighten you to any issues they are facing and little things you need to know to run the team effectively. People love to talk, so let them.  You never know what they’ll tell you, so make sure you are prepared to take notes.  Earning their respect as a manager will make you a better leader.

Observe, Create, Action!

Once you get feedback from team members, observe them for a week or two to see how they function, both in their individual roles and as a team.  Give your new team the opportunity to adjust to the leadership change, then you can begin creating an action plan.  Move forward with any policy or procedure changes, just be aware of possible resistance and explain your purposes as you go. This will help smooth the way.

Get Them All Together

Lastly, schedule a team meeting to introduce yourself and let them know your background.  You gave them a brief overview in the individual meetings, but this will show them as a team why you are there.  Give them some insight to your experience and the reason this position is a fit for your qualifications.  Thank them for their contributions and let them know you look forward to succeeding together.  Tell them what is expected of you and help them understand how that translates into what you expect of them.  Then get ready to make a go of it with your new team!