The Challenge of Taking Over Leadership of a Retail Team

You’ve landed the management gig. Let me start by saying congratulations. But before you get too carried away, it’s important to remember that (at this time) you’re nothing more than an outsider. That means you’ve got a lot of impressing and learning to do.

It’s also worth pointing out that resignations can follow structural changes, so you might find a few unwanted letters on your desk when you walk into your new office. Combine that with figuring out what’s what, and you’ve got one hell of a challenging road ahead.

In any event, there are some things you can do to bring yourself up-to-speed quickly and ensure your team accepts the recent change.

Successful businesspeople sitting at conference or seminar during lecture

Successful businesspeople sitting at conference or seminar during lecture

Start by gathering information

You can’t just walk into your new role and act like you know everything because we all know that isn’t possible. Plus, that fancy title you’ve just been awarded isn’t going to be enough to win over an existing crowd. If you want respect, you need to earn it.

The one thing you can do is gather as much information as possible and start teaching yourself about your organisation and team. You should learn:

  • Your organisation’s values, mission and culture
  • The company procedures and systems
  • Workplace expectations
  • Performance standards
  • What your team actually does on a daily basis
  • The exact role of each team member
  • How the work actually gets done

It’s crucial to start off on the right foot and be prepared to ease the transition period for everyone involved.

Make a great first impression

Management changes in any company can make existing members of staff feel uncertain and apprehensive. When you first walk through the door, you can’t blame your new team for questioning whether or not you’re going to be a great person to work with. There’s only one person that can prove you are worthy of the role and their approval – and that’s you.

It’s likely that your personality and management style will differ from the person’s shoes you’re filling. That’s perfectly fine. Having said that, you need to show everyone that you’re happy to be there. Make sure your body language reflects that of a leader who genuinely wants to learn the ropes. You also need to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut in terms of making important decisions early on.

Establish rapport one-on-one

Getting to know each employee as a person will help to form some trust and enable you to learn the fundamentals of his or her job. It also helps to put your new team members at ease with you as a person. Meet one-on-one and start by asking questions about their current tasks and responsibilities within the company. You can even ask about what they’d like you to bring to the table as a manager and any issues that have been hindering them before you arrived.

Once you’ve established a bit more about their role, ask them about their family and hobbies. You can also share some of your own stories and personal interests. It will show that you care about getting to know them, which in term, can lead to staff members being more open with you. Just make sure you make the time to meet up often with every person, especially in the first few months.

Hold team meetings

It’s a great way to grow your team and bring in fresh thinking, which are two things everyone in your organisation can benefit from. Holding regular team meetings also gives your team the opportunity to speak off the record and in front of each other. You can encourage interaction with some simple questions, such as:

  • What changes would you like to see in the team?
  • Are there any things you wouldn’t like to see changed?
  • What do you expect from me?
  • Do you feel you need further training in your role?

These are all important questions to ask when taking over an existing team. You can add to them and ask your staff whether there are any other things they’d like to discuss in your meetings. As time goes on, your brainstorming sessions will change – but always ensure your meetings are about work only and not the personal traits of any employee.

I should also point out that you absolutely must take notes during group meetings. You might find that certain individuals make comments that would be good main topics for future meetings or valuable points that you’d like to follow up on in one-on-one sessions.

It’s a lot of work, isn’t it? However, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can build a strong and loyal team when you manage your staff well from the get-go. Good luck.