Your first two weeks are the most important to the relationship with your team.
Whether you’ve found yourself managing a team or a leader of one, you may have a lot of concerns running through your mind:
“What if I’m a bad leader?”
“Will they like me?”
“What if they’re bad employees?”
“What if they don’t listen to me?”
And while you probably wouldn’t dare repeat those worries to anyone else, hearing these voices is, in my opinion, bound to happen at some point in a change to your leadership status. Working with a new team always comes with its stresses and fears. You don’t know what your team dynamic is going to be and you don’t know how you’ll bet manage them. If you’re new to leadership, those voices are all the more loud and frightening.
Fortunately, these are the three tried-and-true steps I’ve started with each time I’ve started leading a new team.
Step 1: Set an Initial One-on-One Meeting With Every Member of Your Team
First, carve out time (no matter how difficult) to set a one-on-one meeting with every member of our team within the first two weeks of entering your role. One-on-ones are your best leadership tool as meaningful connection is deeply important for any modern-age employee. Gen Z wants human interaction woven into the workplace. Millennials want work that fulfills them. The only way you’ll be able to make these connections and understand what fulfills your employees is if you ask–in a safe place, free of distraction.
Often, when I suggest regular one-on-ones to a leader, they tell me it’s too much of a time suck to be sustainable. I believe One-on-Ones are where the magic happens for you and your team. If leadership is important to you, this is an experience you must not miss.
Step 2: Identify What Moves Each Person
Millennials aren’t the only ones who want their work to be fulfilling. Americans generally spend more time in the workplace than we do at home. Therefore, no matter what profession we’ve chosen for ourselves, it behooves us to seek some fulfillment in the 40+ hours we choose to spend in the office. Leaders have a responsibility to (and an interest in) seek out opportunities for our people that allow them to grow and thrive–rather than expecting our people to assume their regular responsibilities with grit and a smile.
Start learning about your people and identify what gets them out of bed in the morning. Do they love helping others? Are they driven by connecting with their teammates? Do they love making an impact on their clients? May they want to eventually be leaders themselves? Do they enjoy the journey more than the destination? Do they prefer problem-solving and critical thinking?
The best way to learn is by asking them questions and paying attention to their answers. Once you figure out what their movement quality is, you can point them towards opportunities that will move them further.
Step 3: Learn What Their Goals Are–And Commit To Helping Them Get There
I don’t believe that it’s enough to tell an employee a goal and expect them to hit it. As human beings, we need a “why” to do anything–and answering that why with “because I said so” or “because it’s the goal” probably isn’t going to get you the results you want for long.
Instead, I recommend asking them what their goals are, both personally and professionally and finding a way for success in their role to lead them to their ultimate goal.
For example, about six months ago, I asked my employee what his goals were. It was his first real Big Boy Job, so his first answer was something surface-level. “I want to further understand my role in the company and where I best fit,” he said. I was unimpressed, so I asked again, “No really, what are your goals? Like what do you want out of life?”
Then, we got to the good stuff. He shared that his girlfriend of many years was going to be coming home from her graduate program and he wanted her to move in with him, but the only way he’d feel comfortable with that would be if he moved out of the house he was sharing with his roommates and into his own apartment.
Bingo. A goal.
That allowed us to talk about all kinds of things: his values, his dreams, and the girlfriend. Ultimately, we set a figure (rent + additional expenses) he’d need to meet in order to comfortably move into his own place. We projected what his commission might grow to over a certain period of time, and we predicted he’d get there in about six months of sustainable growth.
After that one conversation, he was off to the races. I knew what he wanted out of his job and I got to help him with that. I threw projects his way that would increase his earnings in line with what he’d projected. He sought out projects for himself that went above and beyond what was expected of him. He was motivated, excited, and passionate. Best of all, he moved into his new apartment in five months–with plenty of time to decorate before his girlfriend moved in.
No matter how busy you are or how fast-paced your workplace is, you can make time to connect with your new employees. You can be a “good leader” with just a few minutes of care and attention to your team’s needs. You’ll find that those voices will get quieter over time–and much faster if you commit to your peoples’ growth in the first few weeks of your leadership tenure.
What are your go-to leadership tactics in a new role?