Congratulations! You’re in charge of people. Now what? Where do you start? It’s quite easy.
Your team wants to get to know you. They’re interested in what you’re going to do. There may be a bit of anxiety, but they’re more curious than anything else.
The best thing you can do going into a new leadership role is to give your time to each person and listen. Have a chat and get to know each other.
I have used some version of the “Get to Know Your Team” questions since I first boarded a ship close to 20 years ago. As a new officer, I knew that I needed to get to know my team quickly and get right into helping them succeed in the department.
I’ve tweaked it over the years as I’ve transitioned into Corporate America and the manufacturing environment. Regardless of your industry though, these questions help any new leader (at any level) more quickly assess the team and take action.
Three key areas are covered to build a successful plan:
- A Personal Glimpse into the Person
- An Understanding of the Team’s Challenges
- Your Role in Their World
A Personal Glimpse into the Person
Everyone has a few favorite things that they are more than happy to share. What I love about getting to know my team is learning a little bit about what makes each of them who they are.
A non-intrusive way to more quickly learn about each person is to ask about their favorite things, family, and pets. This helps you gain a common ground around interests and activities that are not work-related.
An Understanding of the Team’s Challenges
You may be an expert in your field or a highly qualified employee of the company you’ve been promoted into, but you are not the expert of your new team.
They have the answers and know the challenges. Whether you’re replacing a successful boss or helping rebuild a broken team, you won’t know without their insight.
They are the experts and it’s your job to listen, take notes, and work out a plan that encompasses their observations and solutions.
Your Role in Their World
In entering a new role, you have a blank slate to create the direction, vision, and goals of your team. Questions about your leaders’ approach and their interactions with the employees, your employee’s professional goals, and their role in the department will help you determine how to best support their talents.
You’re able to look for opportunities that meet their goals and help grow the team.
How to use the “Get To Know Your Team” Questions
- Make a copy for each person, sit down, and chat.
- Try to get to all your team members within the first few months in position or at a point in which you begin the conversations.
- Capture key themes and ideas.
- Work a few ideas into quick wins.
- Keep a lookout for opportunities that match employee’s goals.
- Involve employees in the new vision and direction of the team.
As word spreads about what you’re doing, your team members will begin to look forward to their time to the conversation, so you don’t want to leave anyone out.
I usually reserve about 20 to 30 minutes per person. Sometimes the conversation is a little shorter, others are a little longer.
Each conversation is an invaluable moment to meet your team and learn about your new position.
I’d love to hear how a conversation or two went with your employees. Please come back and share your experiences.
If there are great questions to add, then let me know. I’m always looking for ways to make the conversations better!