New Managers taking on an assignment in an already settled team, need to ensure that their transition into the team is gradual and not filled with drama. There are many who believe that their past skills and capability, accords them the right to shake up the team, so that they can make a mark, and force people to respect them. This approach is rarely fruitful, as a forced entry only makes people uncomfortable and distant from the leader.
The first week to a month needs to be around “Observation” and “Getting to Know” the team. The idea is to ask questions, understand what is happening in the business, get a better handle on the team dynamics, comprehend the going well and the not so good, and heap loads and loads of praise on people and their skills. It is extremely important to have a friendly face, body language and tone with oodles of direct eye contact. The warmer the leader, the stronger the relationship that will be formed. This is the time to understand your team, get to know them personally, ask them about their likes and dislikes, their strengths and areas that they need assistance, promise them support and ensure that the takeaway in this case is that they start to Trust you.
It is ideal to have a documented game plan and a 3,6,9 months plan, inputs to which need to come from your stakeholders including your boss, the BU head, peers, support groups and direct reports. A critical review of the plan needs to be conducted weekly and progress applauded, slackness corrected to ensure that you are on track. Ideally sharing the status of the plan with the stakeholders will build your reputation as a person who is methodical, planned and concerned around improvements. It is possible that you miss some deadlines and timelines due to pressing commitment, it is appropriate for you to share the misses with the stakeholders, so that everyone is aware of your honesty and your belief in not brushing things under the carpet. This obviously is applicable to a workplace where these behaviors are propagated, and not one which is rife with politics, backbiting and toxicity.
While problem resolution can actually start from week 3(unless it’s a total mess and you need to get your hands dirty right from day 1) it is key to ensure that any radical changes be delayed till the team has built a comfort level that ensures trust, faith and camaraderie. If your intention is to understand what is happening in the team and you want the team to be honest then please read my other article at https://shameelsharma.com/2018/09/04/how-to-resolve-trust-issues-in-your-team/
In summary, first get to know your team, the environment, and the culture before you start making changes – and if things are going fine, don’t change for an effect. Focus on areas that need true attention and when in doubt, use a prioritization matrix to decide.