The 3 questions you should always ask when managing a new team!

I used to stand in the South Bank at Upton Park, the ground where West Ham played between 1904 and 2016.

I first went with my dad, grandad and brother before sitting in the renamed Bobby Moore lower stand with my friends as I got older. The atmosphere was always incredible, if you ever stood there you’ll know exactly what I mean.

As you know, the Irons moved to the Olympic Stadium a few years back and things have changed. Perhaps too much; but that’s progress I suppose. I’m trying to not be stuck in my ways and talk about the ‘good old days’ but it’s difficult.

Ask any Hammers fan and they’ll tell you, we don’t really mind too much about winning things – which is lucky – but tradition is important. One part of that tradition is with our management. Between 1902 and 1989 we had just 5 managers and this season sees us begin with a new one, Manuel Pellegrini.

I was talking about this the other night with my Dad and we discussed what we’d do if we were Mr. Pellegrini in the first few months of taking over. Most of that focused on who we’d sell and which positions we’d aim to target with new players (a couple of full-backs, a centre-half, a right-winger and a holding midfielder!).

It’s common for a manager taking over a new club to make new signings and to change personnel, but would that work in business? I doubt it.”50b6f05e-efc7-4d70-b430-32c0c0129334-original

Think about it, you take over as manager of a function and within months, you’ve totally transformed it. There are new hires, you’ve let a few people go and have spoken in public about those you’d like to replace. Apart from the fact that your HR team would be extremely nervous about your approach, you’d probably find that morale drops to an all-time low.

In business, the best thing you can do when beginning to manage a new team is to gain their trust and buy in. From there, the promises you keep, and the things you deliver on will help keep your team bought in to you as their leader.

To help with this, there are 3 great questions you can ask of each member of the team within the first week or so of joining:

What do you like doing and what are your strengths? Don’t become the boss who suddenly starts giving a team member work that they don’t enjoy or don’t feel competent at. You’ll make them feel uncomfortable and that feeling of dread will be associated with you. On the flip side, knowing what they enjoy doing will mean that they enjoy the job they do; at least part of the time! They’ll also appreciate you listening to them and acting upon their words. An added benefit is that you’ll find delegation much easier as a motivated individual is a productive individual. Getting to the root cause of why somebody doesn’t enjoy something may also give an idea of what training is required amongst the team.

What did your previous manager do well and not so well? Asking what their past managers have done well or not-so-well is a great way to start building a foundation for working with people in your team. For example, if they tell you that they felt their previous boss could be quite negative, you’ll know to adapt your approach to bring the best out in them. If there’s something their ex-boss used to do well keep doing it.

What do you want to achieve here and how close are you to achieving it? This is a great one as it will not only tell you what motivates each person (money, title, work-life balance etc) but you’ll be able to very quickly set out some personal, performance related targets. You’ll have much easier weekly / monthly meetings as you’ll know at the beginning of each what that person should have achieved. You’ll then be able to finish the meeting on a positive note by setting a plan for the following month and by reiterating the benefits of continued achievement (relate back to their own goals).

So, if you’re taking over a new team, in the first few weeks, focus on getting to know them and what makes them tick.

Oh and by the way – If you’re a future manager of mine, a couple of season tickets for the Bobby Moore Lower would motivate me to perform well. It’s not the same as the old South Bank but then, you’re not the same as my old boss and change isn’t always a bad thing.

#management #business #leadership

Paul Miller
SENIOR CONSULTANT – GOVERNANCE
T: +44 (0) 207 337 8824
E: paul.miller@hfg.co.uk

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