If you’ve just been put in charge, no doubt you’ll want to hit the ground running. There will be pressure to hit deadlines, maintain or increase productivity, and move forward.
Here’s the first of piece of advice: slow down to go fast.
Your first job will be to truly understand your new “current reality” before you can effectively take the group to any “desired state.”
As I see it, you have five priorities:
- Connect with your boss.
- Connect with your people.
- Connect with your peers.
- Connect with your customer(s) or client(s)
- Connect with yourself.
Connecting with others
The word “connect” was chosen deliberately. You’re going to connect by “plugging in” with others and doing some good listening.
Resist the temptation to start speech making about all the wonderful things you’re going to do – there will be time for that later. Instead, build rapport with your boss, your team, your peers and your customers or clients by asking key questions, and by conveying the sense that you truly heard the answers.
Then, you can connect with yourself by reflecting on what you’ve heard, what you value, and what you want to create. Only then is it time start enrolling people in your vision, and you’ll have them primed to hear it – because you’ve already connected with them.
You can connect with all of these people with a similar process. Find some uninterrupted time and a good place for dialogue. (That probably means leaving your office.)
Here are some high impact questions to prime the conversational pump:
- What does this group do well?
- What would you like to see changed?
- Is there anything you think we should start doing, or do more often?
- Is there anything you think we should stop doing, or do less often?
- Is there anything you think we should continue to do pretty much the same as we are doing now?
- If you could give me one piece of advice, what would it be?
- If you could give the group one piece of advice, what would it be?
I can’t emphasize strongly enough that your role in these dialogues is to listen for understanding. Take notes. Summarize what you’re hearing and check to see that you got it.
Don’t start making promises or commitments. That comes later, remember?
Connecting with yourself
After you’ve connected with everyone else, it’s time to shut the door, turn off the phone, turn off email, and do some reflecting. Here’s some questions you might ask yourself:
- If I knew we could not fail, what would I create over the next three years?
- If it were three years from now, and our group was about to receive an Excellent Achievement Award, what would we have done?
- If this group were to achieve its full potential, what would that look like?
Your answers will begin to reveal your vision for the future. Fully engaging people in that vision is a topic for another post.