You are the Team Leader Now

LeadershipHave you been striving to move up the ranks of your organization? Well, that time has arrived. If you are like most of us, you wanted this opportunity, but now that you have the team responsibility you realize that there are a number of issues that you did not have to deal with as a team member.

There are some general suggestions that upon which we would all agree. The first is to talk to other team leaders and understand how they coped with some of the new responsibilities. The other thing to consider is that you are going from an expert in you discipline to novice in the leadership role. So, let’s get organized by ensuring that you have a firm grasp of some key information and processes.

Here are some suggestions and links:

Clarity of Goals and Performance Expectations

One of the first steps that you should take, if not already accomplished, is to ask your boss to clarify your goals, expectations and performance requirement and how they will be measured. If possible ask your boss to have a copy of the departmental goals as viewed by his or her boss. In other words, there should be an alignment between what you bosses; goals and what is expected of you. There are certain facts that you must have before trying to formulate your operating plans.

Determine and get documentation as to have the department has been structured over the last two years before you were hired into the department, the head count and budget. The one thing that you will want to avoid is introducing your new plan only to be informed that “we tried that three years ago.” After you have studied this information, ask your boss why those structures were implemented. Finally, you need a complete updated status report all goals and objectives currently being tracked and measured, key department projects, who is leading each project and achievement of goals to date. Goal Setting

Legal, Regulatory and People Issues

Depending on the size and structure of your organization someone in responsible for the human resources and compliance issues. The top officer could be titled, HR Director, manager or representative. You should meet with the right person and let them know that you are assuming a leadership role and want to be apprised of any and all relevant issues in your new department.

You need to be formally briefed on each person’s work history, compensation, background (education, experience and other structural matters. Review each person’s evaluations, performance appraisals, development plans and desired career opportunities. To be successful in your new role, you must have an idea of whom who you can best assign roles to your team members. In summary, you need to be as fully informed about your team members and their skills as possible because your career and future will be based on their performance. What’s Not in a Job Description?

Budget and Financial Matters

Quickly set up a meeting with the finance department person who will have to approve your financial decisions and requests and budgets. Ask for a three (3) year review of all financial information for you department as well as any forecasts for your department.

Make sure you know exactly how many different budgets you are now responsible for, or is everything included on one overall budget. Make sure that you understand the due dates, status reports and forecasts. Here is the big question: Is there any issue that is waiting to BITE ME in the next 30 days? Is my new department UNDER, ON or OVER budget and why? One last thing! Agree on a schedule for future budget reviews. Managing Project Resources

Team Building Phase I

Now that your role has changed, you need to sit-down with each team member to get to know some of them better and to establish your new role. I will be helpful to ask each team member to describe their role and offer any suggestions that they believe would improve their effectiveness. Ask them to be specific as to their progress on projects and key tasks. Talk about your expectations and give them an opportunity to indicate what they expect from you. One of the most important points that you must communicate is that although you were previously peers, you how have the responsibility for the performance of the team. Promotion to Leadership

Team Building Phase II
You are now ready to meet with the entire team and present your vision for the team going forward. Introduce or reintroduce yourself to begin to establish yourself as the team leader and outline your expectations. Allow for a team building activity, such as having each member of the team introduce another member of the team.

Alternatively, you could ask the team to prioritize and brainstorm the three most pressing issues in the department to begin the process of communication. These exercises may provide the opportunity to verify that your perception of the issues are in line with the team or that there are some variances that must be addressed. You have now taken a true leadership step! Manager … the first day!

Related Articles:   Insight + Rapport   and  15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Leadership, Professional Skills

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