Taking on a new leadership role is a valuable opportunity to have a larger impact within your organization and can put your career trajectory on an upward swing. However, being a brand-new leader also presents novel challenges, particularly if you’ve been promoted within your current company.
In addition to taking on greater responsibility, newly promoted leaders must also successfully manage changing workplace relationships. Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council offer expert strategies to help you develop strong new workplace relationships and continue to grow existing relationships to set yourself up for success within your new leadership role.
Having been there, a great strategy is to make time to nurture the changing relationships by acknowledging the change through one-on-one meetings and listening to any concerns people may have about the change. You should also share your thoughts on what leadership looks like in your new role and your 90-day plan. Lastly, get feedback and check in often to get a pulse and maintain strong relationships.
Show your employees that you are open and want the best for their development. Schedule time to meet with each employee one-on-one to learn more about them, see their individual greatness and discover what they desire from you as a leader. Having a prepared set of questions to discuss, paired with a structured questionnaire about engagement motivators, can initiate an authentic, caring conversation.
Two things are critical. First, the leader must invest time getting to know everybody on the team, starting with their direct reports, key performers, stakeholders and influencers. Next, they must articulate their values, expectations, nonnegotiables and what can the team expect from them. This will go a long way toward preventing second-guessing by the team. To top it off, they should listen with intent—to the spoken word and otherwise.
When leaders step into a new role, their first instinct is to invest all their energy in proving they can do the job. While it is essential to show competency, it is equally important to invest the time to understand their team members. Ask what makes them tick. What are their zones of genius? What are their pet peeves? A new leader who seeks to understand their team makes the greatest impact.
As a new leader, it is important to be mindful of evolving workplace relationships and take steps to manage them effectively. It’s important to communicate openly and transparently, be approachable, show appreciation, set clear goals and expectations, foster collaboration and be open to feedback to effectively manage relationships in the workplace.
Spend time building professional and personal relationships with your team from the start. Understand what drives and motivates them to succeed in their current role along with their aspirations for the future. Establish consistent meetings—once a quarter at minimum—to focus on their goals, aspirations and accomplishments, which will lead to long-term success for the team overall.
Prioritize open and transparent communication with your team. This means being clear about your expectations and goals, as well as being approachable and available to listen to feedback and concerns. By creating an open and honest dialogue with your team, you can foster trust and build strong relationships that will help to create a positive and productive work environment. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD
One of the most challenging parts of being a leader of former colleagues is managing the interpersonal dynamics. Any leadership role is about helping others to work better. What you know about your coworkers, the work they do and the relationships and trust you have built over time will only be assets to you as a leader.
New leaders should focus on setting healthy boundaries and realistic goals. Establishing a proper sense of their own personal limitations and abilities makes it easier for a leader to handle their responsibilities and maintain their relationships. If a leader does not understand their physical and mental capabilities, they may become overwhelmed with stress, which can burden interactions with others.
Taking over a team is as exciting as it is frightening. The first steps are all about the leader building trust and earning legitimacy. The newly promoted leader must work on their self-awareness and self-management. This will enable them to ask (not tell), listen, observe and adapt their behavior and actions to the context and the priorities. The team works with the leader, not for them.
Identify and meet with as many stakeholders as possible to learn what matters to them, how they prefer to communicate with you and what you need to do to convert them to allies and advocates. Synthesize the feedback you gather, then meet with your direct manager to ensure you are aligned on the mission and success outcomes of your role.
Success is not about you—it’s about how you motivate and connect with others. Often, new leaders are excited to get their chance to prove themselves, only to learn influence is not about them. Understand the landscape, build relationships, get clear on expectations and create early wins with both people and the business. Establish your leadership reputation, which is how you want people to experience you.
One of the basic pillars of establishing your leadership with your team is active listening. Communicate fluidly with them to understand their needs, skills and weaknesses to get the best from each person and help to improve their less-developed areas. This will allow you to reinforce your leadership and be considered a leader by the team.