Written by
Dave Roberts

Published
10 Apr 2017

Inheriting a team

10 Apr 2017 • by Dave Roberts

My views haven’t changed over the years and I would like to think I’ve always kept true to what I believe in. This is ‘getting to know the people you are working with’, ‘cleaning invaluable knowledge’ and ensuring you set an expectation of ‘high challenge’ for those who are willing to progress but also offer ‘high support’ for everyone. 

The word “team” can be defined in a number of ways and the way I’ll define it for the purpose of this piece is; direct reports or senior members of the virtual team. Being a HRD this is typically HR business partners, specialist partners and other HR support in the team. 

Getting to know the people

We have all started somewhere and we have all had leaders we respect or take approaches from them, of which we feel makes a great leader. What I’ve always respected is leaders that really spend the time to get to know you personally and professionally. This is even more prevalent in this day and age where work and personal lines are blearing. When inheriting a team this is fundamental as, even though you would have had feedback, you must understand where peoples skills, experience and drivers can be utilised moving forward.

There will always be an element of letting go of the past and what excites them about the future so you can use that to coach them but engage them at a fast pace. Ideally if you can arrange to meet them before you formally start a role then this allows you to start the engagement even earlier.

Cleaning invaluable knowledge

If you’re inheriting a team, you’re inheriting a pot of knowledge and this can help you navigate the organisation as well as help getting things done.

High challenge

Once you understand people’s drivers and appropriate challenges, it is important you set out direction. Some of the team may be comfortable and not want to stretch themselves but generally I would always expect a challenge of some sort, whether that be through how we operate as a team, what knowledge we hold or the value we add. Otherwise the team stands still. The direction and challenge needs to be clear, relevant and accompanied with constant dialogue and support.

High support

Once you truly get to know your team, you will quickly ascertain who needs support and those that are better or prefer working autonomously. However, it is about ensuring the support is there if needed and this can be professionally or personally.

Aside from these key areas, I would advise being open minded, embrace diversity in the team and always focus on listening more than telling at the early stages.