Successfully Leading A Team You Did Not Pick

Successfully Leading A Team You Did Not Pick

If you spend a long time in a company, over the years, you may have the luxury of hand-picking your team from the ground up and intentionally leading a group of people who complement each other both personally and professionally. However, most leaders are brought in to run a team that has already been selected by their predecessor.

Taking over a team that you have “inherited” can be a challenging situation to navigate. You may be unfamiliar with the varying personalities and how they work together. However, with the right approach and strategies, you can find success in managing a group that you did not personally hire.

The first step is to build rapport. Try to get to know each team member on a personal level. Take the time to have one-on-one meetings with everyone and ask them about their interests, goals and challenges. This will not only help you understand each person’s unique perspective but also show them that you care about them as individuals.

Another way to build rapport is active listening. Giving your undivided attention when others speak and asking follow-up questions to show that you understand their point of view is a key skill. By doing so, you can create an environment of trust where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns with you.

During this “getting-to-know-you” phase, you might discover unique and varying temperaments. Successful management requires understanding each person’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their communication and work styles. This is where assessment tools can come in handy. For example, I often recommend the DiSC assessment to my clients. This evaluation helps to identify team members’ behavior and communication preferences so you can tailor your management style to meet their needs.

After working through the evaluation, you may find that team members who are more introverted may prefer to work independently and may not be as comfortable speaking up in meetings. In those cases, scheduling one-on-one meetings with them to ensure they have a voice in the decision-making process can be beneficial. On the other hand, if you have others who are more extroverted, they may thrive in group settings and desire more opportunities to collaborate with others.

Conflict resolution is a vital management skill when conflicts arise from a team with diverse personalities and preferences. To be a successful leader, you need to address these conflicts head-on and work to find a resolution that works for everyone. Listen to both sides of the conflict, acknowledge each person’s perspective and find a compromise that meets everyone’s needs.

While building rapport and taking on conflict resolution are key steps to getting settled in a new team, setting clear expectations is also imperative. Individuals within the group may feel a sense of uncertainty regarding their roles and responsibilities. It is your job to clarify these expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This means outlining goals, defining roles and responsibilities and establishing a timeline for completing tasks.

Taking over a team that you have “inherited” can sometimes be a daunting task. However, with the right approach, you can build rapport and manage differing personalities and preferences. By getting to know everyone on a personal level, actively listening to their ideas and concerns, addressing conflicts head-on and setting clear expectations, you can create a team that is motivated, engaged and productive.

When you create an environment where each person feels valued, supported and clear in their role, you ensure the success of your organization.

This article has previously been featured on Forbes