Stepping into a new role as leader of a team presents a range of challenges, from wanting to get off on the right foot with your new team members through to learning how you can all work together effectively. These things take time, but there are some simple, practical steps you can take to get the ball rolling within your first week of leading a new team.
- Share your Outlook calendar with your team members, and get access to theirs. Encourage team members to put all their meetings, key milestones, leave and other absences into Outlook so that everyone can see at a glance where each person is at any point in time. This also makes it easier to schedule meetings. Being transparent with your activities also builds trust and lets your team members know what tasks you are working on.
- Enter each team member’s mobile and work numbers into your mobile phone and give them yours. This gives you a means of contacting each person from outside the office or in case of absences or emergencies. It also means you can get messages to the entire team as needed, and they to you.
- Find out each person’s birthday and mark it in your calendar with a reminder. Whether it’s a simple acknowledgement on the day or a celebratory morning tea, you’ll be prepared.
- Set up a time to meet with each person individually. Use this meeting to find out their background, role, history with the organisation, their goals and any challenges. Also take the time to enquire about their life outside the office and any special arrangements or needs they may have.
- Find out if there is a regular team meeting already being held. If so, put this in your calendar. If not, schedule a regular meeting and invite the team. To avoid the ‘go round the table’ style meeting, think about what topics of discussion will offer value and provide an agenda as part of the meeting request. Effective team meetings are two-way conversations – time for the leader to share any important news or updates, and for team members to share information, raise concerns and ask questions.
- Let the team know your expectations of them. For example, let them know how and when to notify you of absences. Consider any standards of behaviour that may be relevant. A good time to do this is at your first or second team meeting.
- Obtain a copy of the most recent performance review and/or the current development plan for each team member. This information will help you to become familiar with people’s strengths and areas for development. It may also flag any performance issues to be aware of.
With these seven practical tasks completed, you’ll be on your way to settling into your new team leader role.