Leading a New Team? Six Tips to be a Better Leader
By Amanda Rubizhevsky
Are you leading a new team, taking over an existing team, or new to a leadership or management role? Regardless if your RD education included leadership training or not, leading a new team isn’t always easy, and unfortunately many leaders - new and seasoned - skip over the basics in a rush to start achieving goals.
Your actions in the first few months of a new position can have a major impact on the future success of your team. It’s critical to dedicate time and energy to establishing how you want your team to work, not just what you want them to achieve. If you don’t take time upfront to figure out how to get the team working well, problems will inevitably come up.
So, what do you need to know in order to set your team up for success? What are the best practices for forming positive group norms, clear goals, and creating a comfortable, motivating environment? Here are six tips to make sure that as your role as a retail RD expands, you can successfully grow with it.
- Avoid coming in with a pre-conceived plan. If you're hired to fill a void and address current challenges that have been highlighted to you, this will be very difficult not to do. Your best bet is to take the time to learn the challenges (and their extent) for yourself. How to get this done? Encourage your team to be completely open with you. By doing so, you’ll earn trust and get to know your team on another level.
- To a similar tune, don’t make changes before you’ve had time to notice patterns. This will help ensure that the changes you are planning to make address real problems and not one-off events.
- Focus on fostering camaraderie. Get to know your team and encourage the team to get to know one another better. For example, start meetings with team-building exercises, or for virtual teams, start your calls by getting updates on how each person is doing.
- Communicate your vision and values. Use your initial interactions as an opportunity to showcase your values. Explain the rationale behind each of your decisions, what your priorities are, and how you will evaluate performance, individually and collectively. Doing so will show your team that you’re committed to transparency.
- Take note of strengths. If you’re too focused on finding room for improvement, you may not see what’s working and the strengths of the talent you have. Learn about their career goals and vision for the company. You may be able to leverage their expertise in ways you hadn’t anticipated.
- Set or clarify goals. One of your most important tasks as a team leader is to set ambitious but achievable goals with your team’s input. By setting clear goals early on, the group’s decision making will be more directed and efficient, and you’ll lay the framework for holding team members accountable. Many managers inherit their teams, which often means they aren’t creating new goals, but clarifying existing ones. Talk to your team to make sure everyone feels they are contributing where they are most equipped.
These are just six tips of many to get you thinking about becoming a more effective leader and achieving more personal and career success as a retail RD.