Being a new leader is tough. Especially if you are now managing a new team of people that you don't really know yet. People are going to be unsure of what your abilities are, how you will impact them and their jobs, and whether or not they can even trust you. But this is all normal. In fact, it should be expected by every leader in a new position. After all, the best offence is a great defence!
So how do you prepare for the inevitable? Well, it's really quite simple if you remove "work" from the equation. We all tend to over complicate things at work because we seem to think different rules apply when we are being paid rather than when we are off the clock. But the truth is, the person you are at work should be the same person you are at home. So don't think of your new team as employees, think of them as people. As friends or even family.
Consider this for a moment. If you were to bring home a brand new puppy (which I just did recently and she is the worst employee ever but I love her!) you wouldn't expect the puppy to listen to every command you give as soon as you bring it home. There is a feeling-out period. Trust needs to be established. Communication channels and language needs to be learned. Training needs to begin and most importantly patience is required. You see, we all have these skills and we are more than happy to use them when it comes to a new pet. However, when we are at work, our expectations change. We expect our employees to know our communication style, speak the same language, obey our commands, and trust that what we say is best for them. On top of that, we expect them to get all that on day one!
Now I am certainly not suggesting that new managers bring treats and give belly rubs at work! But what I am suggesting is that they need to bring the real them to work. The person who shows patience and leadership at home to their kids or pets. We do those things at home because we know that it's what's required and that it works.
These 5 things will help you nail your first impression with your new work family.
1. Don't have all the answers. The worst thing any new manager can do is show up with all the answers. You don't even know what the problems are yet. Take your time to learn and observe. Creating a strategy takes time and nobody will buy into your plan while you are still brand new. Even if you have some solutions that will benefit them, resist the urge to share right away. If it's a good idea for right now, it will still be a good idea in a couple of weeks.
2. Make it about them. You were hired or placed into a position because the company thinks you are the right person for the job. But remember, you work for your team, not the company. Make it clear that you are here to help them solve their problems. You don't want to be the manager who parachutes in banging the company drum. Let them bring solutions to the table. It is your job to evaluate them and decide what course of action to take. The fact that you allowed them to participate will be refreshing.
3. Listen to learn. Allowing them to participate is one thing, but you need to actually listen to them. Active listening skills are essential for new leaders. Take the time to ask questions and really understand. Spend a few days thinking over what they have told you and then follow up. They will appreciate the fact that you took the time to digest what they shared and will be happy to engage in deeper conversations. It takes time for people to really open up and tell you what they really think, and not just what they think you want to hear.
4. Establish how you communicate. It can be really difficult for people to read someone if you haven't spent enough time together. Sarcasm can easily be confused with seriousness and urgency can be seen as arrogant for example. Just because you are fluent in sarcasm, does not mean that they will be. Be self-aware of when it may not be appropriate. People need to understand how best to communicate with you. So take the guesswork out of it and just lay it out for them. If you prefer face to face conversations, tell them that. If you check your text messages more frequently than your emails, tell them that urgent messages should be texted rather than emailed. It's a very simple step but one that can avoid many future miscommunications.
5. Be your true self. Be very wary of putting up a false front during your first few days on the job. If you present yourself as something that you are not just to impress people, you are going to find it extremely difficult to keep that up. Eventually, your true self is going to show through and if people start to see that you haven't been genuine with them, you will no doubt lose their trust. So just be real. Don't hide behind what you think they want. Just be what you are.
Removing the pressure of work from the equation allows you to just be human. Treating people well, with respect and decency is simple. Being a leader means being real. So whether you are training a new puppy at home or introducing yourself to a new team at work, the skills required are the same. Don't overcomplicate things. Focus on being a good person and the rest will start to fall into place. Never be a manager before you master being a person first.
Do you have a difficult time connecting with new people? Is your team not responding the way you had hoped it would? Connect with me here and we can discuss how Le8der will help you drive more engagement with your employees.
Want to get The Art Of Le8dership delivered to your inbox? Subscribe here!