If you thought that starting a new job as an employee was difficult, you can fathom how hard it is for a corporate executive or new manager, to ingratiate themselves to an existing team. A new manager or supervisor, can send shock waves through a department, simply due to assumptions and unknowns. Employees may make assumptions that are based somewhat on fearful outcomes, and fit; a new management style has a direct impact on daily life for staff members.
Successful executives know that starting with a new organization, means onboarding yourself into an existing team structure, from a procedural and cultural perspective. We share five successful steps and core communication strategies, to indoctrinate and connect with a new team.
- Plan Your Ice-Breaker and Introduction
New managers are already acquainted with the human resource department, and other executives at the organization before they begin, as part of the interview and hiring process. But while staff may see a new executive visit the organization before starting, there can be concerns, misinformation and even rumors that circulate, before a new manager starts.
The most important thing for executive leaders who are starting a new role, is to create an opportunity to ‘break the ice’ with the immediately team he or she will be supervising and working with. Schedule a meeting, and make it a positive start, by welcoming your new team, and sharing a little information about yourself.
Depending on the circumstances and work load, some executives can find themselves behind closed doors when they begin, and this lack of personal and professional transparency can actually get your team off to a bad start. As important as it is for the executive to hit the ground running, from a productivity standpoint, the priority should be to make yourself familiar to subordinates, and create a positive first impression with your team.
- Spend Time Learning the Existing Corporate and Team Culture
Culture differs from one organization to the next, and within your new team, there may already be successful, established leadership habit that are essential to the performance of the business unit. While you may have a clear sense of the overall corporate culture, each team has (particularly if there are employees with long tenure), has a way of working together that new managers need to understand first, before implementing changes.
- Give Focused Attention to Individual Team Members
Within every business team, there are star performers, and individuals who need professional development, coaching and support, to improve productivity. Successful executive leaders spend time with people one-on-one, to determine strengths and areas of performance that will need additional focus. Make time to talk to each team member, to develop a positive rapport, and get the diagnostic overview of your existing team and their potential.
- Explain Your Management Style
Spend time evaluating the management style that your team has been accustomed to, and the relationships that existed within the department. If you are replacing an executive team member or manager who had a long tenure within the organization, the change is going to concern your staff, and create a certain level of anxiety, until they have the opportunity to get to know you, and adapt to your unique leadership style. New managers have to inspire confidence and trust in their teams, in order to achieve results, and the best way to do this, is to address concerns by being transparent about how you manage your team, and what you expect from them.
Start on a positive note, and outline the core goals of the business unit or department. What are you going to be working together to achieve? What strengths lie within the team (spend time acknowledging areas that they have excelled at in the past). Then explain how you will be supporting them (not just evaluating performance), to help the group meet established benchmarks.
Be clear but encouraging, in terms of what you think that your team is capable of. Inspire them to trust your leadership, and take pride in the cumulative results each employee will be contributing to. Outline expectations, and how you plan to reward and acknowledge results. Assert that you are open to feedback, innovation and ideas to help your organization and immediate team grow, and that your door is open to their contributions, to foster success.
- Celebrate Team Accomplishments
A positive team environment is created, when each employee feels that they play an important role to achieve the organizations goals, and the productivity and measurables for the department. Assure your team that when goals are realized, that there will be acknowledgement of both individual and group performance. Help employees eliminate any concept of communication silos, and assert that as a manager, you are part of, and accountable for, successes and performance that doesn’t meet expectations.
As a new manager, you could spend months making up for a weak start with your new team. Inadvertently, you can also contribute to misinformation, gossip and other toxic behaviors, as a result of poor relationship management. Remember that with established teams, procedural and social change should be gradual (and not abrupt) to improve communication, morale and productivity.