When people step into new business leadership positions, they face a number of challenges. These hurdles are even more significant for those who have never before served in a leadership capacity.
People understand that first impressions matter a great deal. Failing to make the right one could cost a lot of time and significantly weaken teams. Many new leaders want to make a good impression by getting a great deal accomplished in the first few weeks. However, failing to focus on teambuilding can have serious repercussions down the road.
What steps should someone take to set his or her new team up for success and create a supportive environment? The exact answer to this question will largely depend on the specific leader’s personality, style, experience, and goals. At the same time, the following tips can help:
1. Maintain Open Communication
For a new leader, over-communication is better than talking too little. At the beginning, leaders should keep their door open to comments and questions at all times and even create a structured schedule of check-ins. Meetings may involve the whole group, be one-on-one, or even take place electronically if the team is remote.
In the end, leaders should keep in mind that few, if any employees, have ever complained about their bosses communicating too much. Encouraging all the members of the team to speak openly and honestly about their opinions, goals, and experiences helps build the trust that is necessary for teams to operate effectively.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Leaders need to explain in detail how they want the team to work at the very beginning of the relationship. In some cases, setting expectations can take the form of a conversation. This gives employees the chance to express what they think works and what does not.
However, the leader needs to make the ultimate call about everyday processes and the responsibilities of each team member. The purpose of including everyone in the discussion is to avoid having people feel uncertain of their roles or their positions in general.
Once these expectations are set, leaders should make sure that they hold all employees accountable to them. If the rules are enforced only sporadically, it is possible that individuals will feel singled out.
3. Explain Personal Motivation
When leaders make a decision, they should try to explain their reasoning to their employees. Doing this helps leaders demonstrate their values and shows the team what their bosses consider most important.
Leaders who make decisions without any explanation can make their employees feel insecure. However, a leader who clearly communicates values and motivation helps employees understand what will be expected of them and on what grounds they might get evaluated.
Everyone defines success slightly differently. Leaders should make sure that their employees know what it means to do well.
4. Find a Mentor
No single standard exists for how leaders should handle various circumstances. When leaders feel at a loss about what to do, they need feedback from someone they trust. Finding a mentor can prove difficult. Despite this, it is important to establish some kind of mentor relationship either within or outside of the company shortly after assuming a new role.
This person can help ease the transition and serve as a sounding board for new ideas about how to build the team or inspire achievement. An ideal mentor has held a similar position for a considerable amount of time.
He or she also agrees to maintain confidentiality regarding whatever is shared. Sometimes, a boss naturally becomes a mentor. Other times, someone else may have more time and be a better fit.
5. Learn as Much as Possible
The best leaders understand that learning never ends. Furthermore, these individuals recognize that transitioning into a new position necessitates a lot of time figuring out the lay of the land.
While many organizations offer some sort of formal training, this period is never adequate to really get a sense of a company’s values. Individuals should learn as much as possible about the company’s policies and products as well as the job descriptions of their new employees.
Ideally, individuals also conduct research on their new team members by taking a look at their personnel files and resumes as well as past performance goals. Doing this can help leaders launch meaningful relationships from the very beginning.
6. Get Friendly with Everyone
Leaders are in a unique position, and making the most of their positions requires getting to know everyone at the organization. Typically, leaders receive formal introductions to their team members, colleagues, and superiors. However, they may not have the chance to formally meet everyone else at the company.
In the first few days, new leaders should take the initiative to introduce themselves to anyone unfamiliar. Sometimes people feel like they will bother other people by doing this. However, a quick hello can form a lot of bridges.
The real problem comes when these introductions do not occur. Down the line, it becomes infinitely more awkward to meet someone for the first time and some relationships may never develop as a result.