Making an addition to your team can be difficult; making an addition above your loyal and committed employees can be challenging. Some people can feel threatened by a new leader, just the thought of the shift in dynamics can upset productivity, while other employees might feel looked over or unappreciated.
Whatever your reasons for needing to introduce a new leader, there are some things that you can do to ease the recruit and your existing team into the shift. The new leader, hopefully, is someone with new ideas, a renewed enthusiasm and the ‘missing’ ingredient that you need to boost productivity or invigorate creativity.
To ensure that you give your new leader, and your team, have the best opportunity for change, think about how some of the following ideas could be implemented:
It is important to openly communicate early in the transition process that you will be introducing a new leader to your team. You need to inform all departments, not just the department that is gaining a new leader, and you need to be open to comments, suggestions and criticisms.
Let the current team know why a new leader is coming onboard. If the previous leader left under good circumstances, tell the team and congratulate the person openly on their success. If they are leaving in less than optimal circumstances, ensure that you quash any rumours and restore the team balance. If they are unhappy, find out why and address the issue before introducing the new leader to a disgruntled team.
Be open about communicating the processes, reasons and motivations for hiring a new leader. If the new employee is from outside the organisation, give them an introduction to the office culture and invite them to participate in any social gatherings so that they can better understand your company dynamics.
2. Address Audiences
You need to make sure that the message that a new team leader is joining the ranks travels up, not just down. The people who the new leader answer to will also have some questions, so it is best to prepare answers to some frequently asked questions, i.e.:
- Why this change?
- How will our relationships and structure change?
- What does this mean for my job or responsibilities?
- Have we told clients or the media?
Change can make people feel insecure. Making sure that everyone knows who the new recruit is, what their role and expectations are and how they are qualified for the role is important not only for your company but also for the new recruit. By keeping communication channels open you give everyone the best chance for accepting change.
3. Allow the Leader to Introduce Themselves
When the new leader comes on board, have them introduce themself to the team, ideally within the first few days of employment. If the former leader is leaving on good terms, ask them if they would like to do an official handover. Allow the new leader to have the stage and present their plan to the company, or to their team. Allow the new leader to discuss their vision and, hopefully, inspire their colleagues to rally behind them.
It is important that this setting be consistent with the standards of your office culture. If you are a very relaxed small team, you might have an informal afternoon tea where you can all chat socially and get to know one another. If you are introducing the new recruit to a large company with thousands of employees, it might be best to send an email to the departments that are less affected and have the new leader speak directly with those who are working most closely with them.
4. Week One
During the leader’s first week, have them meet with their team and individually with their new direct reports. This will serve as an introduction, and also a forum where expectations are communicated, issues and action plans are discussed, and assignments are clarified.
This is the time for your new leader to get settled and to learn about your company, how you interact and what processes might need improving. They are a fresh set of eyes and it is often in this time that new ideas or updating technology can be seen by an outsider. While it is not the time to make big changes or commitments, it is the time to get to know each other and really listen to the insights that your new hire will have.
5. Regular Check-Ins
Your new leader should be confident that checking in with their team will inspire them to complete tasks or approach them about difficulties. It is an adjustment period and your new leader will likely need your support to gain the trust of the team. Be there as a guide to ensure that communication is open and any disputes or ruffled feathers are smoothed in the right way so that employees are productive and working in a harmonious environment.
6. Establish Top Priorities
Once the leader has settled in, gained the trust of the team and understands the culture, it is time to set priorities. It is the job of the leader to create strategies for achieving goals and lead the team through the campaign. The leader should be confident in presenting their plan, assigning tasks and accomplishing goals in line with company targets.
This message should be delivered to the team as a whole. If you are working remotely this can be done in many ways, such as a video conference, email or online tasks. It is the job of the leader now to take the reigns and make the role their own. After all, you hired them for their skills and knowledge, so give them the space to show you what they can achieve with your skilled team at their disposal.
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