Tuesday, July 14, 2015

4 Things You Must Do When Taking Over a New Team

Congratulations! You’ve received a huge promotion. You’re going to be the new department manager (or division manager or school principal or college president). The ideas you have for your new organization are popping in your head like popcorn kernels at the local movie theatre. You’re bursting at the seams. You’re so excited and can’t wait to hit the ground running! 

However, NOT SO FAST, my friend. Before you get started, be advised that your career in leadership may end before it ever gets started. 

In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman developed his four stages of team development (a fifth stage was added in the early 1970’s), forming, storming, norming, and performing. According to Tuckman, the four stages are necessary in order for a “team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.” 

The following four steps to forming a new group are designed to assist you in getting off to a solid start with your new team: 

(1) Don’t move too fast. If you’re an idea person who moves at the speed of light, your new tenure should not begin by overwhelming the masses. The system can handle only so much change in a short period of time especially during the inception of the forming stage. However, if you do decide to run roughshod through the organization, please be advised that you may meet strong resistance from equally assertive and veteran employees while your more reserved and peacekeeping workers may attempt to avoid you all together. Of course, this will only spur on the myth that when new leadership takes over, change is inevitable. 
(2) This is the best time for you to stamp your imprint on the team. Setting clear expectations from the beginning with your vision, mission, and values, if done correctly, will give you credibility. But it must be done methodically. 
(3) This is the getting-to-know you phase (for the leader). You have been entrusted to lead people that you do not know. If you were promoted from within, your new followers may know you personally but not your leadership style. Therefore, you must realize that you are leading personalities, first, and systems, second. You need to know why Angela Analytical is not satisfied in a meeting until she hears about the numbers. And why Sabrina Social appears disengaged when the numbers are discussed too long. Sometimes learning little things about your employees will make you a more effective leader. 
(4) It’s the getting-to-know-you phase (for the group). The forming stage is not only important for the leader but it’s equally, if not more important, for the group. This is especially true if you’re coming in from the outside. The team needs to learn your personality. If you’re a big picture-thinking, gregarious leader, Stevie Structural needs to know that details bore you. And Ivan Introvert must not take it personal when you stop by his office unannounced (for the second time that day). 

If you fail to take the time to get to know your employees during the early stages of your leadership tenure, you are doing yourself and the group more harm than good AND you may very well thrust them into the storming stage (prematurely), which is what I’ll discuss next week. 

What about you? 
(1) How has your team handled the forming stage of group development? 
(2) Do you understand and respect the personalities of the people in your group? 
(3) Does your group understand your personality?

In the News

Recently, I had the privilege of fasciliating a workshop for the leadership team members at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. It's one of my favorite destinations, and I always enjoy working with this group. Dr. Vicki Karolewics, President, and her team--they get it!

 Quote for the Week
"Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." - Vince Lombardi

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