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Breaking the ice – the new manager’s first moves

You are now a leader- of a different team, or a first timer. Ready to take the reins. Good to recall that the skills and behavioral skills that have worked well for you in previous years leading up to this new managerial role, might no longer be as effective or relevant going forward. At this point, it is natural to feel nervous, apprehensive. After all, you have your own management style and are not yet sure about how well it will be received. It’s time to break the ice.

The term itself implies an active and sudden change in social settings. And, as a manager, it is your duty to make the first move. Your team might prefer to maintain a distance and observe you for some time, or just be worried about the consequences of expressing themselves openly just yet. How do you warm up to a new team? Each person brings their own communication style; some are spontaneous, some take time. Some are expressive, some are reserved.

First impressions are always hard to make, since they are usually strained with nervousness; additionally, if teams consist of old and new members, there exists an unbreakable hierarchy already.

So, how do you make the best of this situation? Here are a few Behavioral skills you can consider:

First, make the transition smoother by having one-on-one conversations with team members. Try to understand how they feel, what drives them, and what you can do to make things easier for them.

Second, observe the team dynamics and try to understand how you will be able to lead the team to set and achieve new goals. While the existing work environment you step into might be comfortable and efficient, it’s also important to view processes and team dynamics with a fresh set of eyes in order to identify areas that require improvement or change. This can be done by examining a process level breakdown and then focusing on areas that appear to have double handling etc.

Refrain from proposing changes based on hearsay and old perceptions while you were outside the team, as the reality could be different. Be sure, after your analysis, and then propose any changes. But it is important to announce your strategy and your leadership style without too much of delay as the team(s) would be anxiously waiting.

Finally, remember that it is all about striking a balance. While it is important to understand the team’s sentiments and connect with every individual, it is also crucial that you keep the larger organizational goal in mind. Both the big picture and the details matter equally, and we should ensure that one aspect is not lost in the face of the other.

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