How to Start Managing an Established Team

Whether you’re a new hire or an existing manager taking on new team members, thought has been put into a fundamental structure change when you begin managing an established team. The best way for you get off on the right foot with your boss and the existing leadership team is to get a clear understanding of why you’ve been asked to take on this responsibility. Even if it’s a simple case of the previous manager leaving the company, you can still gain valuable insight as to the expectations for your new role. Keep these questions in mind as you take on the position:

  • What worked before the transition?
  • What didn’t?
  • How is success measured?

Once you have a better understanding of the expectations of the upper management, it’s time to talk to the people who have been most likely affected by this transition. Your new team members most likely feel a little uncertain about their future, so talking to them directly and as soon as you can will go a long way in earning their trust. Remember: your primary objective of these first one-on-one meetings should be to listen.

  • What is a typical day like?
  • What do they feels works and does not work within the team?
  • Where would they like to be in one year? Three years? Five years?

After you have gotten feedback from management and your team members, it’s time to get to work on what you hope to accomplish. Despite the fact that you’ve been given this new responsibility, you’re still on the “hot seat” until you prove your success – especially if this team has a lot of opportunities for growth. The best way to get everyone in sync with your plan is to write it up in a clear and concise way.

  • Create an objective for what your team will do, and how success will be measured.
  • List out tasks and key milestones.
  • Attach measurable goals to each task.

When your draft is ready, set up time with your team members, your own manager, and any additional key stakeholders whose insight is valuable to your team. Incorporate their feedback if it will help you to reach your objective. Once you have buy-in and feel good about your plans, ask your manager for guidance on the best way to publish or share with the company as a whole. You want everyone to know how confident and excited you are about your new team. When preparing for your presentation, keep in mind:

  • What is it that your team does that no other team in the company can do?
  • How will your past experience help you to lead this team to success?
  • What are you most excited about with this team in the future?

As each big milestone comes up, work with your manager on the best way to keep everyone in touch with the progress you’ve made on team goals. Perhaps there is a recurring company meeting during which you could present a short update. Your team will feel empowered  that their efforts are being recognized and it will serve as a great motivation for all of you to reach your goals.

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