“Top 10” Priorities for New Team Leaders…

Published on July 8, 2010 in "Top Ten" Lists | No Comments

…(and new team members) to ensure success. We all want to succeed at our jobs. We all want our teams to succeed at achieving their missions. So what should a new team leader (or a new team member) do to assess their current situation and plan a course of action that would maximize the likelihood of achieving success? TeamReadiness offers some suggestions listed below.

NOTE – by “new” we include more than just “first time” leaders. It also includes people who have just joined a new company or have just transferred to a new team; people who have a new boss or new responsibilities. These priorities are also relevant to team members in general.

(rankings are in a suggested chronological sequence)


1. Know Your Boss’s Expectations

  • Know exactly what your boss or bosses expect of you.
  • What are your deliverables, schedules, operating procedures & processes, and performance metrics?
  • What are your boss’s expectations for protocol, style, etiquette, dress, communication; what are his/her pet peeves?
  • What was your boss’s motivation for putting you in this position; Is there something he/she thinks you are uniquely qualified to address; Are their specific problems your boss wants you to focus on?
  • Remember that most organizations are primarily concerned about two things – that you “fit in” with their values and culture, and that you get your job done (on time, as expected).

2. Know Your Boundaries

  • What are the limits of your authority?
  • What can you do; what can you NOT do?
  • Often this involves issues pertaining to your responsibilities, delegation, interfering with the authority of others, conflict resolution, hiring/firing decisions, spending money, changing engineering specifications, making customer and price commitments, changing program schedules, etc.
  • Who are the other stake holders you need to consider and speak to before taking specific actions?
  • Who all in the organization needs to see you as a critical stake holder before they take certain actions?

3. Know Your Team

  • Meet individually with your team members and conduct a confidential diagnostic interview.
  • Ask them about their backgrounds, deliverables, strengths, weaknesses, issues they face, recommendations, and observations.
  • Do they have the skills, knowledge, tools, techniques, and information they need to be successful?

4. Review Project Plans

  • Review all project plans or work plans.
  • What deliverables are due and past due; is it clear who is responsible for each deliverable: what are the issues; what is at risk; what needs to be done right now; where are the opportunities for improvement; what do you need to do to ensure the work gets done?
  • Consider where you stand with respect to budget, schedule, and conformance to specification.
  • Where is there waste and inefficiency; are there things that people shouldn’t be doing?

5. Meet Your Customers

  • Meet your internal customers — the other people and departments in your organization to whom you provide deliverables; Conduct a diagnostic interview and find out how things are going.
  • Meet with the organizations’ external customers — the people that buy your goods or services; Conduct a Customer Visit or diagnostic interview and find out how things are going.
  • With customers that purchase your goods or services, it is important to understand why they buy from you and not your competition. Understand their purchase criteria and what specifically you need to do to keep their business.

6. Meet Your Suppliers

  • Meet your internal suppliers — the other people and departments in your organization that provide you with their deliverables; Conduct a diagnostic interview and find out how things are going.
  • Meet with your external suppliers — the people that provide you with goods goods or services; Conduct a diagnostic interview and find out how things are going.

7. CAUTION – Don’t Try Too Hard

  • Often, people in new positions or people that just joined the team try too hard to “fit in” or to project an image of how they want others to perceive them.
  • They try too hard to be funny (like Robbin Williams), tough (like General Patton), a big shot (like Donald Trump), a Jedi Master (like Yoda), the coach (like Vince Lombardi), the great father figure that has been waiting for this historical moment to arrive (like Noah and his ark); they want to be smooth and cool (like Bond, James Bond); he or she is everybody’s buddy, a know-it-all, a “name dropper,” overly helpful, overly complementary, overly sympathetic, and they over commit; they move too fast; rush to judgment; tell everyone how their old team did things so much better; they constantly blame the previous leadership for current problems; they talk a lot but say very little, and don’t listen at all.
  • Relax, be still, and humble yourself. Remember your Dale Carnegie Training (“How to Win Friends and Influence People”).
  • It takes about 6 months for new people to feel comfortable, secure, and at ease in their new position, especially first time leaders.
  • Assess your own possible behavior changes and insecurities; take steps to remain sincere, genuine; void of hypocrisy and false representation; people have excellent “phony baloney” meters and can spot a fake a mile off.
  • If you want respect, show respect. Else, your opportunity for success may be undermined.

8. Create Your Action Plan

  • Based on what you have learned (from everything referenced above), list and prioritize the actions you and your team need to take to be successful.
  • Be very specific about what you expect from your team members, and from yourself (deliverables, schedules, budgets, processes, metrics, etc.).

9. Equip Your Team

  • Make sure your team has the skills, tools, procedures, best practices, training, and resources they need to be successful.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact TeamReadiness if we can be of some assistance in this area.

10. Communicate Your Expectations

  • Tell your team members what you expect of them (What you want, When it is due, Guidelines for how it is to be accomplished, Who is responsible for what, Metrics, etc.).
  • Be clear about accountability and hold team members accountable.
  • One best practice is the “Weekly Team Meeting:”
    • Review the work schedule and deliverables for the team.
    • Each person must give an account for the work they were to have completed by this meeting.
    • Each person also sets expectations and commitments for deliverables that are to be completed by the next meeting.
    • Changes, risks, and issues are noted and can be discussed during the meeting or afterwards.




DMW

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