This week in the anonymous career advice column, we tackle something many managers will encounter when taking over a team or a department.
Dear Focus, I have recently taken over from a bad manager, they have dented the team’s confidence and they have zero trust, what should I do?
One of the guaranteed occurrences in management careers is we take over from a bad manager.
However good a manager you believe you are there will be certain aspects of your management style that will remind someone of their previous manager and open professional scars or wounds that need to heal.
Almost all management styles differ, especially when you come in from another company and take over an existing team that have worked closely together for a year.
The best approach is to create a simple transition plan for the team to move forward and become a trusted part of the team and the company.
Our recommended approach is to listen and ask a number of questions and address these concerns and previous experiences:
|1 – Ask for insights||Ask your team for insights and examples of poor management. This should not be considered a session to be completely negative but a step towards a proactive therapy session|
|2 – Acknowledge poor leadership||One of the most important steps is to identify and highlight there were a number of issues and recommend how you can work to improve this collectively. |
Be clear everyone has shortcomings and you will try your hardest to remove these behaviours from your management
|3 – Identifier your style and talk it through with the team||One important step almost all leaders I have worked under or with has called out their style and talked through what they are good at and what they are bad at and how they like to work, especially now you are armed with important information.|
|4 – Create space||The most important step is to take a step back and observe how the team performs and look to come to you with any issues or how they work through their issues when they think no one is watching. |
Trust is built through experiences but also knowing they can come to you when they need to. It is vital to be available when they need assistance
|5 – Ask for open feedback||Once you have given the team space and become approachable, ask for open feedback in a form you can keep a record of and show you have made progress. |
Recording feedback and keeping open dialogue gives you a way to encourage more open communication.
Know when to take it offline or move to one to one
|6 – Meet monthly and celebrate||Something that many good sports coaches do is meet with their players and teams directly regularly, this is also a trait some of the best people managers I have worked with or feedback I have received directly. |
The next step: celebrate as a group and as a team to build more trust and recognise there has been both business performance improvements and personal developments.
When there have been examples of behaviours being repeated or removed, call it out early.
It is important to note: Good managers set behaviours, set their teams to succeed and help to guide company culture and improve organisational health, bad managers set environments and often create poor cross-functional collaboration and internal fighting. Bad managers can also completely by accident create strong team bonds – this can be great news for you or a challenge to be aware of, tribal behaviour can be combative against a new leader.
Learn when to guide or when just to get out the way.
Best of luck with removing the negative energy and previous leadership issues, this won’t be an instant problem to solve but one with a couple of positive steps and then a giant leap will be made. Think of the first few weeks as a hangover period that will clear and lift and clarity and delivery ensue.