Welcoming the new boss

Updated: May 26 2007, 05:30am hrs
Change is constant and the only person who likes constant change is a wet baby. Good and bad situations keep changing in organisations. Having a team leader who is effective and respected is good but this also will not last forever. In many industries team mandates, decision-making capacity, and leadership are all subject to change, regardless of team performance.

I remember working with a big pharmaceutical company where a new leader had just taken responsibility as head of their consumer health-care business. There was a huge difference between the old leaders style and the new leaders. The integration of the new leader was not done properly and the team morale was down.

Taking time upfront to establish rapport and understanding on both sides can help maintain team effectiveness and help sort out potential conflicts before misunderstandings ensue. One method for expediting understanding is through purposefully integrating a new leader. This process involves educating the new team leader on the teams needs and also ensuring that the team is willing to listen and respond to the new leaders needs.

We went for a three-day offsite visit with the new leader and the team and one of the first things that we learnt was that the team expected the new leader to behave the same way as the old leader used to behave.

We all know that each human being is different and has different styles when it comes to leading and managing people. But at times it is also difficult for a new leader to get the team out of the shadow of the previous leader.

At the offsite, we spent some time asking a few basic questions to get everyone on the same platform. The team members tried finding answers to questions like: Who are we (our purpose, products or services, staff, skills); what are we most proud of

What are we doing very well at this time Why are we doing so well in this area What are we not doing that well Why not

What are we doing to improve Whats ahead for us in six months, one year, three years Under what leadership style do we work best Why How empowered have we been or should we be For which activities Based on the above, what do we need from our new leader to continue fulfilling our mandate What are we offering our new leader so that he will feel part of this team

Then the leader explained his expectations, dreams and plans, both personal and for the team. We also had a discussion on different leadership styles and how diversity could help drive results. During the three days spent outside the workplace, team members and the leader deepened their understanding about each other, created their collective dreams, found common ground and the whole process helped integrate the leader to the team in a structured way.

So if you have a new leader getting on board, think how are you planning to integrate him with the team How would you create a rapport and common ground and what are the structured actions that you plan to make the integration smooth

The writer is managing director, Training Alternatives