Getting to know your team – Knowing me, knowing you

This article is all about starting out with a new team and how to get to know them. In my time as manager of IT support teams I have joined 3 companies / teams. The challenge is always how do I get to know the team members. Of course, I speak to my team to try and get to know them informally during the work days that we are together. These are the more formal steps I have always gone through to get to know my teams. Though I want to learn what other people do when starting out with a new team. How do you go about getting know your new team?

  • Send out an email to all team members saying I will be arranging 1:1’s with each of them to get to know them. Attached is my CV to this email as I ask everyone prior to their 1:1 meeting to send me their CV (I stress this is not an interview) but a quick way for both of us to know each other’s backgrounds. I make it a point that the team member will always be able to ask me anything about my CV. This is building trust and knowledge about the manager and for me, the team member.
  • Send an email to all team members with a link to an anonymous survey where I want to know:
    • What are you expecting from me / what do you want me to be as a manager?
    • What qualities are important to you when thinking abut your ideal manager?
    • What would you focus on doing if you were the manager?
    • Where are the teams struggles?
    • What things do they like about working in this team?
    • What thing do they not like about working in this team?
    • What should I watch out for? Etc.
  • It is anonymous as I am new and therefore have no trust relationship with the team for them to trust me to impart information which isn’t so positive but needs to be known.
  • 1:1’s are structured for the team member to start building trust with me but getting the first chance to speak and ask questions. Once this is complete, I want to know about them eg what do they do outside work, music they listen to, why do they do this job, why have they stayed so long in this job etc.
  • I send out a weekly email for the first 100 days after I have joined to show my team what I have done in that week. Who I have met, what I have learnt and what I will be looking at next week. I never want to be the manager where the team are thinking…what does he do, he is useless?I heard that in every job, the leader manager has 100 days to make an impact so this is why I came up with the 100 days of reporting what I have completed.
  • Shadow my team working on their day to day activities. I know this isn’t the most comfortable thing for any team member to have their manager watching what they do but it is a great way for me to understand how the team works and what they do.

Though I have been thinking what else I can be doing to be better at getting to know my team?

I listened to this podcast : Diary of a CEO. E96 How to Take Full Control Of Your Mind: Pro. Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox

And I thought wouldn’t it be great to know what each team members buttons are to get their mind chimps rattling the cage?

Eg my buttons are:

  • Lack of respect
    • Interrupting / talking over / rolling eyes
    • Not responding and moving the conversation on immediately after I finished speaking
    • Rude
    • Dismissive
    • Challenge ideas / beliefs in a disrespectful way
  • Lack of honesty / playing me / pulling the wool over my eyes
  • Not keeping me up to date on projects / tasks, especially if they are about to blow up / high impact / senior management involved – The trust/autonomous responsibility gets more or less as a result.
  • Lateness to work / meetings

If I knew what my teams buttons are too then we become a better team at communicating and working with each other?

Another area I thought about would be putting together a paragraph with the team on how we should work together eg what I need to know and when and what my team needs from me and when eg when to escalate an issue? What we support and don’t? This might be a live document that you start with a rough draft and add things to it as new things come up and we have to deal with them.

As always, I am happy to take feedback. This is a learning experience for me and it would be great to know what you think about these methods I use and new ideas I am thinking about. What do you do to get to know your team?

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