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6 Questions You Must Ask When Taking Over a New Team

A new manager can often feel out of their depth. But by asking the right questions, you'll soon have everything you need to take the lead.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
6 Questions You Must Ask When Taking Over a New Team

New team leaders have the challenging role of entering into a foreign workplace dynamic, mastering it, and guiding the team working underneath them all simultaneously. While this may seem like an impossible task, using communication as a vital tool will allow you to get your team’s input and flourish in the role.

By asking questions when you arrive at a new workplace and start a new project, you’ll be able to quickly get all the answers you need to manage the teams you’re dealing with effectively.

These questions range from questions you must ask yourself, those you must ask in one-on-ones, or questions you can pose to your whole team. In this article, we’ll be covering:

  1. Why it’s important to ask questions when managing a new team
  2. How to ensure your success when taking over a new team
  3. 6 key questions to ask your team members

Let’s get right into it.

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Why is it important to ask questions when managing a new team?

Starting a new position, especially when you’re given a new power dynamic to manage, is never easy. From office politics to sticky social situations, a new manager can often feel out of their depth.

One of the best ways to overcome this and to set yourself up for success as a manager is by asking questions. By directly communicating with your new team, you’ll be able to find out valuable information about how they interrelate and work together.

Alongside that, asking questions also demonstrates to your new team that you’re open to hearing how they want things to run. While you’re in a position of power, good management works with the team and supports them along their journey. When you ask a question to a team member, you’re telling that team member that you respect their opinion enough to take it on board.

Small things like building a sense of respect between yourself and your new team by asking questions can show the team that you’re on the right track and will fit nicely into their dynamic.

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How do you successfully lead a new team?

You want to start strong as a new manager, without stepping on too many toes while doing so. As a new team leader, you’ll want to make sure that you get to know the entire team as soon as possible. There are three main tips to follow when starting in a management position:

  • Create open lines of communication as quickly as you can
  • Implement honest feedback from your team
  • Get ahead of introductions

Let’s break these down further.

Communication is one of the key team management skills 

It’s been suggested time and time again that communication is one of the most vital skills you can build, not just in the workplace but in your personal life as well. Open communication with your team comes from them trusting you enough to share their opinions.

Without a way to relay essential tasks to your team, set expectations, receive feedback, and help any employees that feel overwhelmed, you’re not going to be able to support your team as much as you should. Communication is at the center of all of these tasks, with this skill being the center of your team dynamic.

Right when you arrive at the company, you should start to get to know your new team. Make sure they know they can come to you with problems. Building trust with your new team starts with letting them know that, hopefully even more so than their prior manager, you’ll be around when they need to talk.

While this may seem a little awkward for both the existing team and new managers initially, it’s vital that your team never feel discouraged about your presence. 

Everything starts with communication!

Implement feedback

Now that you’ve set up lines of communication, you should have a much easier time getting feedback from your team. Opinions tend to have a major impact, and when not shared accordingly, they can lead to employees feeling isolated from the group. You should ensure that your team can give feedback to you on how you’re doing as a manager.

Just as you’ll be giving them feedback about their job performance, you should allow them to offer feedback about how you’re doing. Although managing a new team seems like a challenge, getting little bits of information about making yourself a better manager can be incredibly useful in the long run.

If this is your first leadership role, this feedback will be even more critical.

Introductions 

No one will feel comfortable discussing personal issues with a manager they don’t know. That’s why in the first few weeks, even the first few days of managing a new team, you need to set time aside to ensure every single person on the team knows who you are.

Although many see introductions as repeatedly mundane tasks, they are vital in learning more about your team’s strengths, how your team works, and how individual employees act in the workplace. 

One easy way of doing this is to offer coffee breaks for your team, using this time to get to know the employees you're working with. While from an external perspective, being a manager only looks like decision making and being able to set ambitious goals, one of the very first priorities should always be getting to know the team.

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What questions should I ask when taking over a new team?

When managing a new team, asking questions is one of the singularly essential ways to break into this new environment and ensure that you’re doing a good job. Let’s look at some key questions that you can ask your team. 

#1 - Ask yourself what qualities you associate with good leadership

Most people, especially those who are now moving into team management positions, have had a manager before. Everyone’s heard the manager horror stories, and we want to make sure you don’t become one yourself.

As a new leader, before starting the role, you can ask what characteristics or traits you associate with good leaders. While communication and leadership are undoubtedly important, you’ll find you can come up with more features by thinking about your own past experiences.

Note down critical skills, and then think about how you can implement each one of them into how you work as the leader of your new team. 

#2 - Ask each employee individually what their favorite things to work on are

Once you’ve introduced yourself, an early objective of team leaders should be to establish who in your team likes doing what. While many people will be on the same page, enjoying similar tasks, you’ll often find outliers who dislike a specific task.

The most important result of this question is that once you find out what tasks people don’t like, you can give those tasks to people who actively enjoy those tasks. Thankfully, your team members will have a variety of likes and dislikes. As a team leader, make sure you have your top performers on tasks they’ll excel in.

Not only will this support your team, but it’ll also ensure the success of every single one of your team members.

#3 - Ask the team as a whole if there was anything the past manager did that they liked or disliked

Your employees, just like you, will have had past managers that they maybe didn’t exactly love. While managers can alleviate tension and act as in-person touchpoints, they can also make a workplace much harder to exist in when they stop communicating.

Your new team members will be able to help you customize your managing technique. Take on what they liked about their past manager, and try and improve on the ways that your predecessor didn't succeed. 

Once again, this tip comes back down to communication - this skill will help you always put the right foot forward.

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#4 - Ask the team members what they like to do outside of work

While company success does come down to setting ambitious but achievable goals for each team member, there is a lot to be said for getting to know your employees on a personal level first.

This question will help you build a better picture of who your employees are as people. With this, you’ll build rapport, ensuring that any communication you have with your team is as smooth as can be. It’s also one of the unwritten rules that creating a social atmosphere helps people feel happier and perform better at work.

#5 - Ask how the team like to receive praise and feedback

Asking how your new employees like to get feedback ensures that you’ll be able to support them exactly how they would like. New team leaders should customize their feedback strategy to match the employee at hand.

This will also help you set achievable goals for your team, allowing them to focus on the most critical tasks and get specialized feedback about how they’re doing.

#6 - Ask about team availability for one-on-one meetings

Workplace communication shouldn’t just be about big meetings. Scheduling frequent meetings on a 1-1 basis can help you get to know your team, help with individual career development, and give employees more support in the workplace.

When managing a new team, you should ensure that everyone who works with you has a designated slot that recurs monthly or weekly to discuss anything they’d like with you. 

Not sure what to ask? Take a look at this one-on-one manager weekly template from Hugo. 

Final Thoughts on Managing a New Team

New team leaders are given the challenging position of navigating workplace politics while also driving forward company success. 

But, with this list of questions, you’ll be able to embrace your new role, create a happy workplace, and ensure that all your teams are working as well as they can.

If you need help organizing meetings, then why not try out Hugo. This all-in-one digital meeting platform will allow you to schedule meetings, set agendas, and take notes about new ideas that come up with ease! What’s more, it’s free for small teams, giving new leaders everything they need to get started.

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