Your first leadership role is about to start, and you are wondering who the people you will be working with are? For anyone taking on a new team, getting to know our team members for the first time is a good opportunity to build trust. This includes mutual trust within your team, with your leader, and also with colleagues or peers at the same level. What is recommended in this introductory phase?
Here are five tips that make getting to know each other easier:
Let’s start with you – what is important to you when getting to know others? What do you want the team, your manager, your colleagues to know about you? What would you like to know about them? This can be both professional and personal. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone, some of the team members or even all of them as former colleagues. Take your time to think of potential answers to these questions as well as questions you have for your team members.
First impressions are crucial. Therefore, the first day is all about giving the team a good, coherent first impression of you. Check with your manager beforehand that a joint team meeting is organised at which he/she will introduce you to the team. Afterwards, you can introduce yourself to everyone and the team to you.
You can also give an introductory speech, which I always like to call the “leader manifesto”. This is about your career so far and also what you are looking forward to in working with the team. The following questions can give you further inspiration for writing your leader manifesto:
In some organisations, it is even customary for new leaders to create a one-pager about themselves, how it’s like to work with them. That’s something you can send to your team members after the introduction and even a nice starting point for the get-to-know conversations.
While the first few weeks will certainly be busy, I recommend that you take the time to have in-depth get-to-know-each-other conversations with each team member. I always describe it to my coachees as a kind of “investment in the future” – the better you know each other, the more trust there is and the faster decisions are made and topics implemented later. A little recommendation on the side: For all those who would like to read more about the importance of trust in teams, I recommend the book “The speed of trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey.
Back to the 1:1s. The aim of the 60-minute 1:1 meeting is that on one hand you get to know the individual team members and on the other hand that they get to know you! Here are a few questions to ask your counterpart which you can use as a guide for the 1:1 get-to-know-you conversation:
Now the team has gotten to know you and you have established the first contact with everyone in the team.
The next step is getting to know each other in a team workshop. You can find more information about how to run a simple, yet effective first team workshop here
Not only will your team want to get to know you, but also your own leader and the colleagues who lead parallel teams may be curious about you.
Use the initial weeks and months to get to know your manager and his/her expectations:
You can adapt these questions for the get-to-know-you conversations with your peers.
Even if this sounds like quite a lot of “getting to know you” activities, this is a unique chance to build a good basis of trust in the team and beyond, especially in the crucial beginning phase. I hope these tips will help you take advantage of this opportunity!
Would you like to feel even stronger supported in your first leadership role? Katrin also offers a new product to support first-time leaders even better: The First-Time Leaders Community. It includes a self-paced video training, regular workshops and exchange with peers, and optional individual coaching sessions. Learn more and sign up today if you think you can benefit from it!
photo by Lucie Greiner