Getting to know your team
Getting to Know Your Team
The first time you set foot in front of your new team, you will probably find it a nerve wracking experience. You may already know them if you are an internal promotion, or they may be a totally new set of faces that you have never met before. Whatever the circumstances are, there is one very important starting point that you would be wise to take, and that is getting to know your team.
Teams are all about people and you have been chosen to lead this particular group of people. They will, therefore, be looking to you for guidance as they continue on their own career paths. It is important to understand that you are not there to manage them. Most people don’t like to be ‘managed’ but most people really like to be ‘led’. This is your role and there are elements of leadership that you can really learn that will help you build your team into one that is high functioning, harmonious and enjoyable to be a part of. This is really what it should all be about.
The starting point for any leader wanting to create this type of working environment, is to provide opportunities to get to know each other. Throughout these modules we have talked about trust and the role that this plays in leadership. Well the very first thing that you can do, as a leader who is new to the team, is to make the effort to get to know the individuals as well as you can. This doesn’t mean being their friend, making sure that you are one of the lads or that you are Mr Popular amongst the team. It is much more about showing your team that you are approachable and making them all feel valued on a personal level, by you, their leader. This is one of the most important building blocks of trust, and therefore one of the most important building blocks of a team.
The next thing to understand about your team members is what makes them tick professionally. If you know what the strengths of each team member are, you can call on this in times of need. For example when perhaps your team is looking for some additional marketing, knowing who enjoys working on social media sites can be very valuable, even if this is not within their specific role remit. The converse is also true, if you know someone really dislikes crunching data, it is pointless asking them to champion this element of your team logistics. If you get to know your team professionally, you will know where they need support from you. It may be the case that you need to provide one of your teachers with some help with their use of IT. If you have taken the time to get to know this person, you will know what support to put in place that they are likely to respond to.
Both of these two things are about knowing the INDIVIDUALS on the team. Your role as the leader is also to understand the team dynamics. This means understanding who works well with who, which elements of the team productivity require attention and understanding how to team people up to achieve certain things that need to get done.
This set of modules is all about understanding and building a team that works well together to achieve the vision of the organisation. As a leader, you will find that this is a continual focus area, regardless of your level of experience and you will continuously work on building your team for the rest of your leadership journey. In this short set of modules what we have for you is, hopefully, a good starting point and some material to make you think about how best to become a leader who values their team and who is valued by their team.
Point of Reflection
Reflect on your team and the team members in it. What is it that you feel you can bring to the team to really add value in the way they achieve their goals?
Personal Development Activity
’Unidentified Skills’ Audit (2 hours)
Quite often people don’t acknowledge their other skills that they may have outside of their workplace, as being valuable to the work that they do. This activity will allow them to break down these misunderstandings, which could open doors and provide opportunities for them, as team members, and you, as the leader.
In order for this activity to be a success it will be necessary to have a short slot in a staff or team meeting, in which you can facilitate some small group discussion and exploration of ideas.
First of all, break the team into smaller groups if necessary. Group size should be 3-4 people.
Ask everyone in the team to write down something that they do in their spare time that is unlikely to be known to anyone else on the team. Then, one by one, ask them to spend a little time telling their groups about it.
In turn each of the activities is discussed by the team and they list the skills that they feel are needed in order to do the activity. Then they talk about how these additional skills can be used in achieving the team's goals.