Leadership

New Leader? New Position? No Problem!

Regardless of why you’re in your new leadership role, it’s always important to hone your skills for leading people. Whether you are beginning as a new leader or have many years of experience changing positions and organizations, here some things you can do to help smooth the process.

Start by Building Relationships

Remember that you are there to lead people – without them, there would be no business or services to provide.

A good leader will do their best to ensure that staff like where they work, feel valued, understand the importance of what they’re doing, and feel empowered. When approaching a new team, focus on building relationships with all levels of your organization – that includes direct reports and those who report to them.

Remember that you are there to lead people – without them, there would be no business or services to provide.

When you start your new position, don’t just hide in your office. New leaders need to spend some time connecting with staff by taking a genuine interest in what they do. Let them teach you about their work.

Building relationships means getting to know people for who they are:

  • What makes them tick?
  • What ticks them off?
  • What do they want in their career?
  • What do they think of the working environment?

Building these types of relationships takes time. But if you start by getting to know your people, it often pays off in the long run.

If a new leader is approachable, their team will be more open to sharing ideas for improvement. Show you team that their opinions will be seriously considered, even if your decision ends up being a no. Overall, change management becomes a smoother process when new leaders build trust with their team.

New leaders need to spend some time connecting with staff by taking a genuine interest in what they do.
New Leaders Must Understand the Workplace Before Making Changes

As a new leader, your team may have been at the organization longer than you, meaning they have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. They already have an idea of what they would change and what could be enhanced to be more effective.

When you are in a new position, even if there is high pressure to fix things, it’s important to remember that you don’t have all the answers.

While you build relationships with your team, pay attention to what people say about their work. Ask them questions like:

  • What’s working well?
  • What do you want to see done differently? Why?

If your time overlaps with your predecessor, be respectful that they’ve helped create the current system and may not want things to change. You may decide to delay making changes until you are the only leader.

Take a Curious Approach

Consider the existing systems and workflows with a curious mindset, and don’t assume you know all the reasons why things are done the way they are. There could be a good reason for doing something a certain way, so take the time to see the big picture. Understand how and why decisions were made and if those processes are still the most effective for where the organization is and where it’s going.

If you make changes prematurely, staff may not understand the objectives behind the changes. It can cause problems later such as:

  • Staff feeling unheard
  • Disruption to workflows

An important leadership skill is Active listening, which you can practice with your staff. This involves being open to dissenting opinions, and paraphrasing and summarizing to ensure you understand what they’ve said. Ask open-ended questions so you allow them to fully communicate their point of view and sincerely  thank them for sharing.

Consider the existing systems and workflows with a curious mindset.
Learn the short-, medium-, and long-term goals for your role and the department.

When you start your new position, make sure you ask your leaders what the expectations are for you and your role. It is important to be able to prioritize the work while you are listening and learning from the staff. This will also ensure that your efforts are aligned with the objectives of the organization.

Setting an orientation plan that allows you time to learn your new workplace will help to pace changes being asked of you. Perhaps the team is already aware of what changes need to be made and are ready for them, which will make your role easier. Some adjustments might be more difficult, and you need to understand why and how you can best address those concerns.

Remember that when you start a new role, everyone has something to learn – including you! Also keep in mind that you bring a different perspective, which could be why you were hired for the role. Introducing changes should be thoughtful, slow, and inclusive, so set the tone by building relationships, hearing from others, being curious, and understanding the organization’s expectations for your role. These are great ways to get future buy-in from the team and reduce their anxiety and change fatigue.

When you start a new role, everyone has something to learn – including you!

For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page. 

Check out ACHIEVE’s book, Don’t Blame the Lettuce – Insights to Help You Grow as a Leader and Nurture Your Workplace Culture for more leadership insights.

Author

Deanne Kaar

Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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© Achieve Centre For Leadership (achievecentre.com)
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