Not every team is able to achieve harmony from the start. For most, a few kinks in productivity are bound to appear. This is a necessary step, as temporary setbacks are often a byproduct of experimentation. After all, it’s impossible for a team to reach peak potential without first hashing out the strengths and weaknesses of each member. Occasionally, however, initial issues may stagnate into serious problems. Progress falters. In such a case, it might be found that the chemistry between a manager and his or her team simply didn’t mesh. It may be decided that a new leader is needed: you.
Taking the helm of a troubled team is not your typical leadership challenge. If you’re elected to fill the place of a failed supervisor, you’ll be dealing with a team on high alert for any sign of incompetence. First impressions will be vital. Within a brief span, teammates’ snap judgements will dictate whether they believe you’re genuine, talented and worthy of respect. But this situation isn’t as sticky as some may think. In fact, with a bit of preemptive planning, it’s a major advantage. The following are four steps on how to win over subordinates early, and kickstart a stalling team into serious gear.
Schedule Individual Meetings ASAP
It’s impossible to fix a broken mechanism without first understanding its parts. An ailing team is no different. Use one-on-one meetings to learn what motivates each member to do their job and pinpoint whatever problems are holding them back. Showing a little personal interest in subordinates’ lives doesn’t hurt either. Have these meetings as soon as possible to avoid sowing doubt in your ability to take productive action.
Meet with Stakeholders
Anyone with a critical stake in your team’s success needs to realize that change is happening. It doesn’t matter how damaged their relationship to your team was previously; as new leader, you are afforded at least an opportunity to make things right. It’s up to you to inform stakeholders—without delay—that you intend to make full use of that opportunity.
Work in Your Organization’s Vision
You’re here to correct the direction of your team, which is difficult unless you know where you’re going. Network and chat with upper management to obtain a clear general roadmap, in the form of your company’s 18-month vision. Understand the course your company plans to take, and you’ll be able to maneuver team efforts toward organizational goals through a customized, team-specific 18-month plan.
Hold a Team Optimization Session
Put into practice the information gathered throughout previous steps during a team-wide optimization session. Share company goals and team-specific strategies, assign clear and precise individual roles, and present a reasonable timeline for delivery. Establish what kind of support your subordinates will require from you, and have teammates commit to reciprocating that support through their own efforts. To maintain the rhythm your team has likely developed upon successful completion of these steps, plan for incremental follow up sessions to check teammates’ progress and work out any remaining issues.