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!

How To Make Your Team Happier

You expect the best from your team and encouraging them to achieve it is great.  You also want a happy team because a happy team is a productive team. And when a team is being productive, it makes the work place more fulfilling.  Employees will contribute to the team and offer assistance even outside of their own scope.  Happiness is a powerful tool and you should use your skills as a leader to encourage this feeling in your team.  A simple pep talk before beginning a project can increase your team’s productivity by as much as fifty percent.

Thank You!

These two words go such a long way.  Let your team know you appreciate how hard they work.  In the midst of the day-to-day grind, find time to step back and recognize those that helped you.  Make your thanks sincere and without a hidden agenda.  Make the effort to leave your office and go to the team member you wish to thank.  If possible, do it in front of their peers.  This makes an employee feel valued and will go a long way.  Tell them specifically why you are grateful and let them know how their efforts contributed to the overall success of the project.

What Really Matters to the Team

When all is said and done, the satisfaction a team member gets from making a difference will mean more than their salary or other benefits.  Yes, they are working for a pay check, but they can do that somewhere else.  You have to help them feel valued where they are, so they continue to perform for you.  So, offer sincere thanks and let them know they are appreciated.

Make it Personal, but Keep It Professional

You can offer thanks in a note or an email, just be certain you remain professional.  Make your method of thanks match the person’s preferences.  This will show them you have taken the time to get to know them.  A team member who sends hand-written notes should receive the same; one who slaps you on the back and wholeheartedly tells someone how great they are will appreciate the same show of gratitude – perhaps minus the back slap.  Most importantly, be genuine and speak from your heart.

3 Quick Ways To Tell If Your Team Members Are Engaged

As a manager, you need to keep an eye on your team and make sure they stay productive.  With all the distractions today, how do you know if your team is engaged?  Here are three quick ways to keep them on track.

Do They Edify the Team?

The only talk a team member should be doing about another is the type that lifts them up.  An engaged team member will talk positively about their co-workers. Another sign of a team member who is engaged is one who is willing to give credit where it is due. When a member of the team comes up with a great idea, this person is the first to acknowledge their contribution.  They want to see others succeed.

Are They Clock Watchers?

Have you ever been to a casino?  There are two things they do not have: windows and clocks.  If you do not know what time it is, you might not be in such a hurry to leave. Good news for the casino, bad news for your wallet if you happen to enjoy gambling.  In business, there is no time to be a clock watcher – no pun intended.  Engaged team members show up early, stay late, and do whatever it takes to get the job done.  Time becomes irrelevant.  They will understand how to get the job done and have fun, too.

Do They Rise to the Challenge?

As a manager, a phrase you never want to hear is, “That’s not my job!”  When you ask an employee to perform a task outside of their usual scope, gauge their reaction.  If they rise to the challenge and begin to offer suggestions on how the job might be done, they are definitely engaged.  When a fellow employee is having a difficult time accomplishing something or getting started on a project, an engaged employee will jump in and offer assistance.

Be the Example

As a manager, you must lead by example.  If you are engaged, your team will follow.  Your team will be a reflection of you so be how you want your team to be. Happy, helpful, unselfish, leaders…. you decide how you want your team to be, then be that.  It all starts with you.