One of my friend headed the quality function at a medium-sized durable goods company. And once he got a job offer as a general manager in one of its largest plant, he jumped on the opportunity. After briefly examining the new plant, he declared it outdated and went on to rebuild it from ground up. But while doing this, he neglected the importance of understanding the current processes, and interpreted employee’s silence as agreement. No wonder, his idea was not accepted positively. And soon after the new plan was put in place, productivity plummeted and quality suffered.
In order for you to not repeat this mistake, you need to first try to learn the existing operations of the team, strengthen your relationships with the team members, and then try to make changes to the process. In this blog, I will provide you with few tips through which you can accelerate your learning process about the current processes/procedure of your team.
Ask your people: The simplest method to learn the workings of your new team is to ask your people. You would be surprised by knowing how much of the knowledge your new team has to share. Don’t be afraid of looking foolish, while asking very basic questions to your team. I would recommend you to ask these questions during your one-on-one session with your employees. In this way, you will still get the information that you need, without getting embarrassed in front of many people (if you ask any foolish questions).
Train yourself: Another method to quickly familiarize yourself with the existing processes of your new team is to treat yourself like a new employee. I would recommend you to have few days allocated solely to train yourself. During these days, you should work with your team as if you were a new employee joining the team, and tell them to run the show. By doing this, you will not only learn the existing processes of your team but you will also earn the trust of your team by showing them you care about them. Worst come worst, you will be in the position to define the training guide for the new employee joining your team.
Learn from documents: If I were you, I would invest some good amount of time going through all the documentation of the team before I ask someone. In this way, you can learn about the workings of your team without looking foolish in front of someone. This will also give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the document standards of your new team, so that you can follow these standards while changing the documentation, if you choose to change the existing process.
I hope, this blog helps you to accelerate your learning process while understanding the workings of your newly acquired team. If you were in the similar situation like my friend, what would you have done?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
March 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM
You make a lot of good points in this post. I think it is very important to get to know your team so you understand what motivates them. As you do everything you can to understand them and get to know them, you will be able to see things from their point of view and you will gain their trust. From there, you can get their advice and insight that will be real and sincere. Their sincere feedback will help you to make effective change where necessary.
April 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM
@Brandon: You are absolutely right. Developing trust relationships with your employees, and getting to know them on personal level definitely motivates your team. After all, no one would care what you have to say, until you care about them.
Obviously, taking them out for one-on-one lunch, having some kind of a team activity, stopping by their desk once a day, etc. would definitely help you build that relationship.
Thanks for your feedback, Brandon – Bhavin Gandhi