Whether you are joining an established team as a new leader or kicking off one with all new people, you are starting at ground zero. As a new leader, you have a lot to learn and to do, but I believe you should always take the time to create a unique relationship with your team members.
Regardless of who is introducing you, you may want to have a few sentences ready which you or someone else can use during introductions. It should include :
Your name – so people know how to pronounce it and how you like to be addressed.
Your experience level – e.g. x years in the industry, y certifications, special expertise.
A short personal summary is also nice – e.g. married mom of 2, sky diver, originally from Florida.
What differentiates you – e.g. I lived in France for 19 years and speak fluent French.
I have always tried to have one to one meetings with new team members as quickly as possible. Meeting over coffee or lunch is nice but get them scheduled in the first week if you can. This first meeting is really devoted to just getting to know one another. It’s an impactful way to introduce yourself and learn about a little about each person before you jump into the thick of it. You may not always have the choice, but if you’re forced to address a task first, make sure you follow up quickly with the “getting to know you” meeting.
Here’s how I like to structure a 30 minute introduction – call or face to face meeting. An hour is better, but you may not have the luxury of time. If you do have it, double down on listening about them.
Pre-meeting – exchange resumes or LinkedIn profiles
2 min – set the stage
5 min – intro to me
5 min – my management style
5 min – your career
5 min – previous management
5 min – your role
3 min – next steps
I’m careful to let the team member know early in the conversation what I will share and what I’d like them to share (setting the stage). It enables them to prepare mentally for what’s to come. You can set the example by focusing on key information vs going into exhaustive explanations.
Now I would jump into talking about myself for a little bit. By preparing up front you can ensure you don’t overshoot the amount of time spent talking about you on the call, leaving the time to listen as well. Whenever possible, I suggest sharing resumes or LinkedIn profiles ahead of time. This will enable everyone to level set on experience levels before even beginning, allowing for the small amount of time to be spent on what differentiates you and your team member.
If you are an experienced manager, I suggest you share some details about your management style. Personally, I have a “mantra” I have built over the years – Communication, Collaboration and Career coaching which all culminates in Compassionate Management. (I know, all those C’s! But it helps me remember without a cheatsheet !) If you don’t have your own mantra that’s ok. Never be afraid to share your experience level, even if you are a new manager, and simply leave the door open for constructive feedback.
Then it’s time for me to listen. I remind them how much time is left and what I want to cover in that time. If you have read their resume or profile already, you’ll have a general sense of their experience already. That will allow you to focus on what they are most proud of, enjoyed the most or learned the most from. Some people will still dive into a chronological presentation – gently guide them back by asking an open question.
I like to ask what they appreciated most about the manager I am replacing and what they think can be improved with new management. It’s great to get a sense of what was working well and where the sticking points were for this person. After speaking to several team members, you will quickly start to get a sense of any major issues across the team. There is a nuance here – personally I wouldn’t suggest you ask what the previous manager could improve but ask what you can do to provide a better environment. In any case, if this is a completely new team, just ask what they have appreciated most or struggled with in any previous manager.
By asking my new team members to describe their role, even if we’ve both seen a job description, I can start to get a sense of how they see themselves and where they fit in the organization. By contrasting their top priorities with what they are spending time on, you may be able to identify barriers you can help fix (quick wins are a great way to start out in any team).
Finally, I wrap up the call by letting them know what’s next. If you’ve already shared your management system earlier in the conversation, just remind them when you will next meet and any expectations you have between now and then. I like to wrap up by ensuring that I have captured anything immediate they need me to focus on. Doing this on the tail end of the call ensures you don’t get mired down in the firedrill of the day before you even start to get to know them, but it also may mean that you need to quickly schedule more time with them!
What works for you when you are getting started with a team? I would love to hear your comments.