If you’ve recently been promoted to your first leadership role, congratulations!
The step up to management is exciting, but it can be a steep learning curve too, and one that will take you out of your comfort zone. No doubt, you are already very good at your job, but managing a team as a new leader comes with its own set of unique skills; and challenges.
Think of it this way: previously, your success was measured by what you accomplished on your own merit. Now your success will be measured by the performance of your team: your role is that of nurturer, providing motivation, inspiration and direction.
It can take a little getting used to but remember great leaders are not created overnight. However, with some easy to implement strategies in your leadership toolkit, you can start straight away, building the rapport that will enable you to become a great leader and inspiration for your team members.
So, in this article, I’d like to suggest five strategies that will help you make the initial leap into leadership successfully.
1. Operate an ‘Open Door’ Policy
The first thing to remember is that hiding behind your desk or an out of office email, tempting though it may be, won’t help you build your team.
Ensure that everyone knows you operate an open-door policy. If that isn’t possible, then specific times set aside for informal conversations will work just as well.
For example, you could make yourself available for an hour twice a week at specific times. To make sure nothing interferes with this, block off the time slot in your online diary.
Whether it’s face to face, phone call, zoom meeting or email opportunity – making this time available once or twice a week is critical to ensure your team knows they have a regular chance for unscheduled conversation with you.
2. Think Before You Act
How often have you seen new managers make sweeping, across-the-board changes as soon as they are in position?
You may have some great ideas, but if you’re new to a role, especially if it’s with a new organisation, it’s best to settle in first and see how the current ways of operating work before you start implementing new plans.
Doing so too early can cause resentment and damage productivity – especially if those changes are deemed unnecessary by your team.
Additionally, discussing working practices with your team first will give you insight into their needs and provide additional ideas for you to consider. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Talk to Your Team
Setting yourself up as a communicative leader will create a sense of trust in your ability and reinforce team collaboration where they feel supported and valued.
Additionally, it’s vital to hold one to one meetings with your team to get to know them as individuals, discuss their current workload, concerns and their career aspirations.
During your conversations, make sure you are really listening to them.
Yes – there’s a difference between hearing someone and actively listening to them! When you’re busy, it’s easy to hear someone speak and start forming an automatic response in your mind. But as soon as you start thinking about your answer, you have already stopped listening.
So, make sure you engage in listening and understanding. Being mindful of this behaviour will also allow you to develop your management role by providing ideas for you to build into your long-term strategic plan for the team.
4. Build Rapport
Is your team virtual? Virtual teams can often feel isolated and miss the camaraderie of the support they would experience in a working environment where they physically see their colleagues and leaders every day.
Such feelings can lead to disengagement, so it’s worth investing in your team’s wellbeing by spending time developing a culture of support and empathy to build morale.
For all teams, virtual or office-based, good leaders create a positive culture from the outset. You could consider inviting everyone to an informal breakfast meeting to introduce themselves.
And make sure you don’t just talk about work – trust and teambuilding happen when you let others see who you are outside work.
So, encourage your team to talk about themselves. It could be sharing a funny story about something that happened at the weekend or mentioning a love of sailing. These details can help illuminate an individual’s personality and allow your team to get to know each other.
5. Let Your Team Grow
Autonomy is one of the greatest gifts you can give your team.
Learning to trust is not always easy, especially when their actions ultimately dictate your reputation as a leader. But remember how you felt in your previous role – you wouldn’t want a manager who is continually checking up and micromanaging others.
To be a good leader, you need to allow people to do their job in their own way. This will enable you to assess their strengths and areas for development and agree on future coaching and development plans for them.
Additionally, you will help create a team who place value in the work they do and enjoy a sense of ownership for the outcomes.
Building relationships is a crucial part of learning to manage a team.
Forming alliances adds weight to your leadership abilities, and will make any difficult conversations or challenging events down the line easier to manage. As a leadership coach, I have witnessed how simple actions can make all the difference when forming relationships within teams. Taking the time to acknowledge small wins, good work and to build morale will pay dividends.
Finally, remember to communicate with empathy, and you will establish a team that works well together, is happier in their work, and ultimately will achieve success for your organisation.
Here at Zestfor, we now offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your team. If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here.
Until next time,
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.