The old team leader is gone, and you’ve been recruited to take his or her place. The team has done well, and shows no sign of slowing down. They’re already familiar with each other—you’re the odd one out. Team building is important now that you’re introducing new leadership, but you’re nervous about being seen as an outsider. Instead of assembling a team and developing it as you go, you’re forced to develop the one you’re given—reverse team building. You have to integrate yourself into the team. How do you go about doing that?
First, get to know the existing team. It doesn’t matter how old leadership operated, or whether the team’s relationship with him or her was good or bad. What matters right now is the team itself.
- Figure out what each team member does. Each individual has roles, responsibilities, and skills outside his or her job description. Don’t be afraid to ask them. Know how they fit into the process and goals of the team, who relies on them, and vice versa.
- Figure out what each team member likes. Measure their interests in current roles. Again, this is a great opportunity to ask your employees what they like, and to open a dialogue. Your new leadership position could open up an opportunity to change outdated processes or inefficient distribution of work.
- Figure out where they want to go. Learn how your team members want to grow professionally. Even if they like their current roles, there may be developmental opportunities you can now offer to improve their skills. Just talk to them.
Next, start setting team goals. Be proactive and give each member of the team something new to aim for—not just coasting along with business as usual under the old leadership. This establishes you as the new leadership, and sets up guidelines for when you run into challenges or need to decide between priorities.
- Include the team in the process. Team building is about bringing the team together—both members and leadership. Let everyone bring something to the table when setting goals. This will strengthen team members’ investment in the group.
- Make the goals quantifiable. The team will be more efficient and successful if the goals are not vague or unrealistic. Set benchmarks, and offer incentives for reaching them.
- Know what resources will be necessary. Don’t leave your new team hanging by setting expectations and not providing adequate resources. Make sure the proper technology, materials, communication channels, etc. are available.
- Get individual buy-in from each team member. True team building comes from unified commitment to the team’s goals.
Finally, have a little fun. An essential part of team building is fostering a positive community. Come up with team building activities that allow the team to get out of the rut of the usual office environment, like volunteering, grabbing smoothies, or just playing games in the conference room. It gives the old team a chance to get to know the new leader.
If you would like learn more about how Leadership Development can happen in your organization and how you can safely integrate new Leadership into existing teams, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.