When you start a new job, there’s a ton to think about. What needs to get done? Who’s your boss (and how do they think? Where’s the restroom?
When you want to hit the ground running in your new management role, it’s tempting to focus on the immediate. But if you want to get off to the very best start, use a new leader integration practice to speed onboarding with your new team.
New leader integration is a process of sharing your experiences and expectations with your team, and allowing them to share with you. Getting to know your team has great benefits for both you and your team, and it can inform your other onboarding work, too.Leaders: when you're starting a new job, get to know your team -- and help them know you -- in order to get off to a fantastic start! #leadership #onboarding #newleaderintegration Click To Tweet
It helps your team get to know you.
Using an intentional new leader integration process helps your team to know how you work and what works for you. Places to focus include:
How do you like to give and receive information? Are you a writer or a talker? Do you prefer in-person, videoconference, or phone? When your team knows your likes and dislikes in this area, it’s one thing they don’t have to worry about.
What habits do you have? If you’re someone who rides your bike to work every day, or you meditate before your big presentations (Haven’t tried it? You should!), or never (always?) eat lunch at your desk, or you tidy your desk every evening before leaving the office, it’s great to let your team know. Especially if your habits could have an impact on the team.
What do you stand for? When you share your principles with your team, they get a window into what makes you tick. And also what might tick you off. If one of your core principles is diversity, chances are good that you’ll view something that supports diversity positively. But if something flies in the face of something you hold dear, it’s likely you’ll have a strongly negative reaction.
What are you great at? When your team knows your gifts, it can be easier for them to approach you for help.
What are you working on developing? I love this piece for new leader integration – it shows that you value learning and growth, and it also gives you the opportunity to share your vulnerability with your team. Encourage your team to catch you doing things (especially those you’re working on) right.
It helps you get to know your team.
The more insights you can gather from your team, the better prepared you’ll be to face the work in front of you.
What’s going right? Your team can help you identify places where you don’t have to focus your energy when you’re first in the job. That’s equally important to what you do need to look at.
Areas of pride
It’s important to be aware what your team is proud of. These things may not be immediately obvious to you, and they can hold clues about what motivates them.
This area becomes even more important if you’ve been given a mandate to change things. If something you know you need to shift is on the team’s “most proud of” list, you’ll have a heads up to tread softly and ask a lot of questions.
Ask your team what’s not going well, or what they’re struggling with. In the “honeymoon period,” folks tend to gloss over these, but it’s great to know early on.
Your team may see opportunities right now that could take you months to understand fully. Or people who have capabilities beyond their current scope. Ask them!
What’s standing in the way of your team performing to their highest potential? If they’re struggling because they need a piece of software or to take a class or to have a higher level of signing authority, they’re not being as productive as they could be. You may not be able to solve these immediately, but what if there’s something you could?
It sets the tone.
When you talk openly about how the team will work together, you help to create trust and psychological safety, which increases team performance, according to a broad study on leadership by Google. Co-creating norms with your team can be a great way to begin building trust.
How often will you meet? And how will you deal with team members who aren’t co-located? What are your expectations for attendance? Put these expectations into place *before* someone misses them.
How will the team be accountable to each other? What makes sense for email or phone call turnaround time? This is one of those areas that seems small, but can pay big dividends in collaboration.
How does the team want to be known to customers and to others in the organization? Establishing a clear team identity can help build camaraderie and alignment.
A couple of operational tips: it’s always more effective to have new leader integration face-to-face, and plan to include as many matrixed (or dual-line reporting) staff in your meetings as possible. Using a facilitator who’s not on your team can help you get the most out of your new leader integration. And for even more tips and tricks be sure to read Michael Watkins’ book, “The First 90 Days.”
Your onboarding plan will be stuffed with interviews with your leadership, peers, and customers, too. But put your team first. You won’t be sorry you did!
What’s your favorite tip for new leader integration? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared in Forbes.com.