Taking the Lead of an existing Team

Taking the lead of an existing team can be challenging. It’s a time of uncertainty for everyone. Your manager will be hoping they selected the right person for the job, your team will be hoping you act in their best interest, and you will be hoping you can perform your new job successfully.

To help you take the lead quickly, efficiently, and with buy-in from the team, I recommend you apply the following 3-month New Team Leader Plan. Adapt this plan where necessary, and communicate it to your new manager and team. It’s important that everyone knows the plan, so they know your immediate intentions, and how they play a part in the plan.

Month 1 – Learning and Documenting

The 1st month is all about learning about your new working environment, and documenting what you have learnt. This is not the time to make plans or make any changes; that will come in the following months. This month your focus is on learning about the business, your department, your team, and the people. It is also for learning about the priorities of systems, processes, projects, services, customers, and stakeholders.

This month you are a sponge for knowledge, and that knowledge should be documented. During every meeting and every discussion, make notes and gather key information. This will help with your analysis and planning in the 2nd month.

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To help you get started, I have provided a New Team Leader Plan Template for you to adapt – 
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Month 2 – Analysing and Planning

The 2nd month is all about analysing your environment, and planning improvement opportunities. This is not the month to make any changes; that will come in month 3. This month your focus is on doing a SWOT analysis of your team, the services your team provides, the projects your team is involved in, and on any other relevant areas. A SWOT analysis will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It will tell you what is working well, what needs improving, what opportunities are available, and what obstacles you may face. Make sure you are focusing on key areas only. You don’t have the time to analyse everything right now:

This month is also for identifying improvement opportunities, aligning them with your organisation’s values and your team’s objectives, estimating requirements, assigning priorities, and applying impact analysis, before coming up with an Implementation Plan and Communication Strategy. This is a month about 70% analysis and 30% planning.

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Month 3 – Communicating and Change Management

The 3rd month is all about communication and change management. This month your focus is on communicating your Improvement Opportunities Implementation Plan, coordinating planned changes, communicating those changes, and implementing those changes. This month is just the first of many months of change. You want to be careful not to implement too many changes at once. Slow and steady is the best course of action here. You need to give people time to adjust.

This month is also for evaluating the change and change process, and promoting the success of the change. It’s important to take note of issues identified during the change process so it can be improved for future changes. The promotion of the change is important for advising its success, for reminding everyone of the benefits, and for thanking everyone involved in the change.

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So, there you have it, a 3-month plan for a new Team Leader that you can adapt and extend however you like. Just remember, learning, documenting, analysing, planning, communicating and change management all take time. Don’t rush it!

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