You’re New, and You Don’t Know Your Direct Reports
You have decided you want to live in a different part of the country. You land a job as a project manager, employed at a company in your current field.
You will be working with a team of five. However, other than some basic HR information and company website bios, you don’t know anything about the people on your team, and your predecessor is not available for a discussion. The company has mentioned that there may be budget cutbacks that could affect your team.
Get Off to a Good Start
The old cliché that you never get a second chance to make a first impression happens to be true. You want to be able to create a high-functioning team as quickly as possible. What is your best first step as a Q4 leader coming into a situation as the new boss?
While holding a team meeting is a good idea, making it all about you isn’t. Your belief in collaboration should start right away; avoid the urge to have a meeting where you talk and everyone else just listens. Sure, they want to get to know you, but add the element of team participation right away. As in Step 2 of a Q4 one-on-one discussion, you should want to find out what others think before presenting your own views. Read Answer C for other benefits of encouraging team members to speak.
This is the weakest way to go. Bringing other people onto your turf is a traditional boss move. Yes, you can certainly hold a Q4 discussion in your office, but since you’re a team leader, why not meet everyone together, as a fellow team member? It will strengthen your leadership role, not detract from it. A team meeting indicates that, as a leader, you intend to be collaborative. Everyone else will feel more comfortable in a team setting.
This is the best move. You might as well start by interacting as you will when you’re working together. Since you don’t know much about anyone yet, you can learn a lot by asking questions and observing. Without pigeonholing anyone, you can size up the behavior you see as a foundation for having productive team discussions. As the meeting progresses, you can certainly work in your goals and expectations, but if you emphasize everyone’s contributions early, you may avoid the bad team habit of everyone looking to the team leader for the answers. That’s not Q4 leadership.