When you inherit a team

Via hbr.org   Article

Pitfalls to Avoid When You Inherit a Team

“In spite of (or perhaps because of) your efforts to get off to a good start, you risk making a few common mistakes. Here are three that I see frequently:

Trying to be a friend rather than a leader. While I urge you to be aware of and empathetic to the whiplash your team might be experiencing in going from one leader to another, it’s a mistake to allow that empathy to translate into weak leadership. …

Expressing frustration with the quality of team. The team you inherit is the product of its previous leader: what team members pay attention to and what they’re good at is a reflection of what that leader expected of them.  …

Attempting to force trust and candor too quickly. Many new team leaders want to create a frank and transparent culture from the start. …

While you’re being patient, there are a few things you can do to create a strong connection and get your team off to a good start. I recommend using three 2-hour meetings to address the following topics:

Share your story and your owner’s manual. … For example, do you want informal daily check-ins on the progress of a project or would you prefer a scheduled weekly update? Do you want your team to come to you at the first sign of a problem or would you prefer that they do the investigation and come with a proposed solution? …

Define the purpose of the team. … Start by discussing the external environment and the trends that are affecting your organization. … From that starting point, define the parts of that mandate that you can only accomplish together — they should form the core of your time together. Then, set your meetings to accommodate the different aspects of your mandate. …

Articulate the tensions that should exist and how to manage them. … Of all the topics for ground rules, the most critical is that you understand the tensions that will exist on the team and set the standards for how you will deal with them. … Highlight where these roles will be in tension with one another (e.g., the operations leader will be pushing for stability and consistency while the product leader will be looking for novel solutions to take to the market). …

Tread carefully and make sure you’re balancing your empathy for team members with your drive to increase effectiveness. Don’t rush. Instead, use a series of extended conversations about the individual members, the mandate of the team, and the rules of the road to start to build and bolster trust. And when you make a mistake, own up to it — it’s the best way to become a leader the team can rally behind.”

 

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