Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Looking back to move forward, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
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Typically, new leaders have lots of energy, creativity, and a vision for their new team. However, the degree to which your employees buy in to your vision for moving forward has a lot to do with the respect they feel you have for all that came before you. Thus, in many ways, your ability to move them forward has a lot to do with your ability to look back at where they've been. Understand that their current team culture is the result of an evolution over time. Knowing this is important for any new leader, but especially for a new leader who is not a former member of the group.
Before announcing new performance standards, new projects, new long-term goals, do yourself a favor and complete the legwork required to understand the team's history; how they got where they currently are. You want to be able to adequately describe for yourself, the team's current culture, be able to understand and appreciate major key employees and leaders from the past, and strive to learn about any key incidents that have occurred over the last few years. Many times, new leaders rush to make changes in order to make their mark.
They often view employees as mere human resources, instead of unique individuals who contribute to a unique team culture. Team Culture generally refers to a shared understanding of how we tend to behave and perform; the normal way the team functions. This existing team culture should shape how you make and execute decisions as the new leader. The current culture evolved, thanks in part to key players, some of whom might still be in the group or elsewhere in the organization. Believe me, certain historically interesting players cast very long shadows that are still around.
For example, imagine a past successful leader of the team who was fond of walking around informally on a daily basis to keep in touch with his team. Someone who made sure to visit all levels of the organization and who knew the names of everyone from the janitor to upper management. This was his way of developing rapport with employees, which has now become part of the culture. You don't have to emulate every behavior like this, but it might be a mistake not to incorporate some of it into your own leadership style. Aside from key players, there will also be a handful of key incidents that have had a strong influence on the team's current culture.
For example, these might have included the hiring of a particular person, a project that was an amazing success or failure, or maybe a time when the group merged with another group. These types of big historical incidents will pop up in people's thinking and conversations, so you'll benefit from knowing what they're talking about. The good news is that learning these types of things is not difficult. In your first days, spend time speaking with your new boss, your new peers, and most importantly, your team, to solicit their understanding of the team's shared past.
As a result, when you begin to press forward with needed changes, you will have a strong appreciation for how to shape and discuss your proposals in a manner that shows respect for the group's history. That makes you an informed leader worth listening to. The better you understand the past, the quicker you can move forward.
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- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.