Do You Remember Your First Time?
Do you remember the first time that you stood in front of a team? Maybe it was your very first time as a leader, or maybe you took on a new team when you changed jobs?
How was it meeting that group of people, who in the blink of an eye were supposed to be your team?
Do you remember what was going through your head? Or was it a funny feeling in your gut? Did it feel awkward, maybe like an out of body experience?
We’ve all been there! The first day on the job probably didn’t come with a how-to manual. For many of us, there were no instructions on what to do or how to do it. In fact, you might have been lucky to even have a job description. Sound familiar?
I am working with a client who was recently promoted to a Senior Level position. He was one of the team… until the day he was promoted. Both the leader and the team are smart, caring, talented, results-oriented individuals. You could be thinking making the transition from colleague to leader might not be a big deal.
And you’d be right, if you can leverage a tool I refer to as New Leader Assimilation (NLA). The purpose of NLA is speed up the efficiency and effectiveness of not only the new leader’s assimilation to the team, but also the team’s assimilation to the new leader.
Even though the team and the leader may have worked together for a while and think they know one another, there are usually plenty of assumptions, misinformation and unanswered questions.
Questions to Ask
- What do we think we know about the new leader? What do we need to know?
- What do I need the new leader to know about me as an individual?
- How do each of us see our roles and responsibilities, and how do they fit together?
- What’s working well and what could be working better?
- What is changing and what’s staying the same?
As part of NLA, I conduct individual intake sessions with each person prior to our group session. Consistently, when aggregate information is shared with the group, I hear people say, “I didn’t know that.” Or, “That’s not what the way I understood it.” What happens next is a beautiful thing … I see the light of understanding turn on in their eyes. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the more pieces that are put in place, the clearer the picture becomes.
Even though we’ve seen major changes in how we are interacting with each other due to COVID, the key elements haven’t changed. There are no substitutions for connecting, for getting to know your team members, for understanding what makes them tick, for asking good questions and really listening.
A well facilitated New Leader Assimilation Process is a great way to build or re-build trust which is essential for high performance. One of my favorite books is by Stephen M. R. Covey, eldest son of Stephen R. Covey. Two principles from his book, The SPEED of Trust that have always stuck with me are, “Nothing is a fast as the speed of trust and trust is efficient.”
How does this relate to you? Think about your daily interactions with your boss or your team. If the team knows who the leader really is and what’s important to him/her, how much more quickly and effectively can they do their job? How much time is wasted beating around the bush, or trying to guess what the other person is trying to say, or worrying about how to communicate?
Why not get right down to it early in the new leader’s transition? When you utilize a new leader assimilation process, you’ll eliminate the gray areas, build relationships and trust, get input from each team member, and ensure everyone is on the same page before making changes.
If you would like more information on NLA and how it might benefit your organization, please reach out and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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