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As a new leader taking over a workgroup, some employees may decide to test you. Passing those tests will establish you as a confident and respected leader.
Being an effective new leader requires you to balance coming off too hard and too soft initially, so you can understand what your employees are all about. By getting to know them you can find out what their backgrounds are and what makes them tick.
Getting to know them as people and letting them get to know you as a person will diminish the games teams tend to play with their leaders before really getting to know them.
As a new leader, you want to find out what people have to say about what used to happen in the department and what the challenges and frustrations are. If you can help them overcome some of those challenges, you will help them perform their jobs with fewer frustrations.
It is important to remember when you ask questions you can’t always count on the answers to be factual because employees might be testing you. An opinion stated confidently is often misconstrued as fact. This means you need to ask and listen but be aware that just because the information is coming your way doesn’t mean it’s credible.
Take it all in and use your BS detector to tell what is true and what is not. If information comes to you, see if it’s validated by the input you receive from others. Sometimes employees will try to steer you down a certain path only to embarrass you when you take action on that information.
As a new leader, you may come off too harsh. You could also come off too soft and give the impression you don’t care. Instead, focus on showing your team respect.
Being respectful means you’re not overly harsh or abrasive with them. Talk plainly about what you want to get done, showing them the respect you would expect in return. Get to know them and treat them as they need to be treated.
Remember trust is about whether you keep your promises and commitments. That means not over-promising and under-delivering.
When people see that you’re consistent, firm and fair, they’re going to stop testing you because now they can trust you. They trust that you’re going to defend them when appropriate, challenge them when appropriate, and back them up when appropriate.
By following these strategies as a new leader, you can pass the tests employees play with you and earn their respect.
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