Here’s the scene: Thanks to the sudden resignation of one of your colleague, you’ve been promoted and you are now expected to lead a team. But you’ve never managed anyone before and are concerned about becoming “boss” of people who are used to dealing with you as a friend on their level.
“Crikey! Dropped in the deep end – the top 3 factors to consider when you’re suddenly the new ‘boss’”:
1.Leadership is first and foremost about relationships. A change of job title and a new business card does not give you a licence to lead. So your first priority is to strengthen existing connections with your colleagues. Meet with each of them in and discuss how they’re feeling about the change. If you have these conversations early you’ll be able to nip any concerns in the bud. This is a two-way talk, so you can also let them know that you’re nervous, you want to do a good job, and you’re counting on them for support. Showing a little vulnerability at this time can build rapport and diffuse tension.
2.Leadership love. People respond well to knowing they are loved and cared about – even in business! But everyone needs support and encouragement in different ways – find out what they want by asking. Do they like close supervision or do they prefer more of a hands-off approach? Do they like public recognition for a job well-done or do they prefer a quiet pat on the back? What are their pet peeves while being supervised? How do they define success in their role and how can you help them achieve it? What kind of support do they want from you – encouragement, ideas, feedback, daily meetings, or to be left alone with the occasional check-in? What’s more important to them – getting the job done thoroughly and quickly, or that team harmony is maintained during the project? These are clues on how to interact with your team in a way that they appreciate and resonate with.
3.New team – new rules. Your job as a leader is to create a space where your team members feel comfortable, supported, and united in their focus. Meet with your team and discuss what the new ‘rules’ might be in working together. First establish a common goal, such as delivering the current project on time and under budget. Next identify your respective roles in achieving that goal. Lastly it’s important to lay down some new ground rules for interactions and meetings. Include things like, how often will you meet as a team, expectations for punctuality, attendance, and meeting participation. You can also trouble shoot difficult situations such as, what happens if a team member’s not pulling their weight? Or how will the group deal with conflict and disputes?
Early engagement with your peers will develop strong relationships and make your role as leader in guiding the team much easier, the transition seamless, and soon you’ll wear the role like a well-worn glove.