What is one of the most important things you need to know about when you take on a leadership role? Well, you should know about the requirements and you should know what you are talking about when it comes to daily operations. In addition, I think at least equally important is to get to know your team.
Let’s assume you don’t know the team. It has its advantages and disadvantages compared to knowing the people in your team before you start, but it might be the more frequent case. I can only say what I would do. And I invite you to think about this, if this is really the best way to handle it and if this suits your personality.
The first thing I would do is to get to know what they don’t like about their job. I would do it together with the whole team. It demonstrates transparency and can help to build a good team culture where everything can be openly addressed without fear of retribution. It is important to really listen otherwise this meeting could have the opposite effect. When people feel you don’t listen and/or care, they will withdraw. And it is way harder to open them up again.
Secondly, I’d ask them what they like about their job. This would be done in the same setting, together with the team. Please make sure that it is also okay if they say nothing. In the sense of: I don’t like anything about my job. You need to be okay with that because otherwise people might perceive it as dishonest and won’t really open up. Then the question is what to do about that? You can have an individual conversation with that person if he/she is just currently frustrated or really does not like doing the job at all. Then you can try to change the work so that he/she can enjoy it or you need to help this person to find something else. To keep a person in a team who is not enjoying the work at least a little, will be a constant negative source, which can be devastating for team climate. And, you truly need to care and try to help. That is how people will not only be grateful for you, but also keep speaking positively about your company.
Furthermore, ask them what barriers they experience in their every-day work. Come up with a plan together (!!!) to remove those barriers. Ultimately, that is your job as a leader to help your team to do their work in the most efficient and effective way.
During a private conversation, I’d ask them about their wishes, hopes and dreams and see, if I can help them with achieving those. Even, if they are not work-related. We cannot really differentiate between work and free-time. We cannot simply tell our brains to shut off. If people recognize that you have their best interests at heart, they will be grateful. Gratitude and the feeling that you care can not only be good for team morale during difficult times, but it can also lead to a performance boosts.
You could do all this during a team event. Include team building activities and try to cook together. Speaking of cooking. You could also invite them to your place and offer to cook for them. This can be done for the whole team and also for each member individually. A wonderful idea can be to invite their spouses, too. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know the person and to build trust with his/her partner, which can be crucial during difficult times.
What do you think? And what would you do when you start a leadership role?