Published March 12, 2013
Congratulations, you’ve accepted a new job as a manager within a new company, but now comes the hard part. Not only do you have your own goals and expectations to meet, but you also have to build and motivate a cohesive team of strangers.
“As a manager, it’s your responsibility to foster a team that works effectively and collaboratively,” says Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor community expert.
When it comes to being an effective boss, being liked is a good thing but it’s more important that people respect your integrity and knowledge, says Lee Miller, career coach and author of UP: Influence, Power and the U Perspective- The Art of Getting What You Want. He adds that it’s not about winning a popularity contest—it’s about building relationships and trust.
When it comes to establishing your leadership role, first impressions are important, says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert. “The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll appear.” Establish yourself by taking control of meetings and conversations and being firm, but also by being open to the group’s suggestions, thoughts and ideas.
By building your team very early on, you’ll be better able to lay the foundation for success. Experts share the following tips to new managers to help build a productive team.
Get to Know Your Colleagues
“Within the first day or two, host a team lunch,” recommends Dobroski. This gesture will show the team you care about their wellbeing and happiness in the workplace.
Aim to attend as many meetings as you can to get to know counterparts, and observe how people interact with each other and identify any potential problems. After-work functions are also important to help forge relationships because people tend to put their guard down outside the workplace.
“Part of being a good manager is listening to people,” says Miller. “People love to feel like they’re being listened to and heard.” Your employees will have good ideas and know the issues and problems, you want them to feel comfortable enough to confide in you.
To learn more about your employees, Augustine suggests leveraging social media where appropriate by connecting with team members on LinkedIn. However, “Facebook requests are crossing the line,” she says.
Be the Example of Your Perfect Worker
“The team building starts with communication,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com. It may feel forced in the beginning as everyone is getting to know each other, but it gets easier.
Sit down with your new staff shortly after you start, no more than a week, recommends Haefner. “The longer you wait, the longer people will fill in the gaps with their assumptions and it’s hard to undo that.”
Once you have a good grasp of what people do, it’s time to provide employees a benchmark for performance, says Dobroski. “Within a short amount of time, lay out defined job responsibilities and goals for each team member.”
He also advises planning monthly one-on-one meetings with everyone on your team. “It’s an incredible way to get feedback, and let everyone know they’re valued and can speak candidly to you. Feedback from these meetings can help foster professional development for your staff and the staff will definitely appreciate that.”
Be Patient with Sweeping Changes
“Most new bosses can be overzealous,” says Cunningham. Don’t come into your job and expect to overhaul processes unless you know the corporate landscape, the team’s goals and skillsets, the key players, and individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as what works.
“All too often, bosses come in and make radical sweeping changes but before you can do those things, even if it’s needed, you need to know what the landscape looks like,” she says. Sometimes it could be weeks or months before you’re able to make any changes to your new team.
To position yourself to create buy in for your ideas, Augustine suggests learning how business gets done by taking the time to sit in relevant meetings. “If you don’t learn what works and doesn’t work, it’s hard to get a team to help you.”
Depending on the previous manager’s accomplishments, you may have more freedom to do what works for you, says Dobroski. If the previous manager wasn’t getting the job done, you need to implement changes in the first week and establish your vision and goals within the first few weeks. If you’re replacing a manager who was promoted or left the company, you won’t want to make dramatic changes to a plan but everything can be improved upon.
Foster Career Development
If you beat out a current worker for the leadership position, tread lightly.
“Learn about this person and get a sense of what they bring to the table and the areas that they can improve,” says Augustine. Recognize this person’s knowledge and abilities and position yourself as someone who wants to help them get ahead.
Experts suggest involving this person in strategic planning to show that his or her opinions are valued and matter, as well as giving them ownership of projects and leadership opportunities. “Leaders who are successful understand that their team needs to feel ownership, especially if there’s some residual resentment because someone wanted your job,” says Haefner.
“When you’ve achieved something, make sure you share that success with the employees who helped you,” suggests Miller. This will work to your benefit since employees will appreciate you and your boss will notice that you’re giving recognition to everyone who helped.