In this fifth episode in a mini-series focusing on how to successfully take over a new team, we are talking about training plans and touch bases.  More specifically, how do you use the two to continue to build relationships and create the T-word, trust, amongst your team?  

The first part of this process, training plans, is something you are going to develop within the first few weeks of being in your new role or working with your new team. You may be wondering how you could so quickly create a training plan for someone on your team that you just started working with.  Where will you get this information?  And will your direct report appropriately receive your desire to support them?

The answer is, they already gave you the answer.  When you asked the questions during your first week, one question you asked was “what can I help you with or support you on?”  The answer to that is your first action item in your training plan.  If they didn’t give you a very complex or a developmental answer, you are going to ask for another “how can I support you” answer during your first touch base.  The bottom line is that they need to provide you with this first action item and because they provide it to you, they are going to be open to receiving your support. 

Once you start running down this path with them on this first part of the training plan, you will start to discover other areas where you can support them, push them, and help them grow. This is just to get you both started and start to get traction in their leadership.  Beyond the fact that this is going to allow you to see how well they adapt, learn, and adjust to the changes you are teaching them.

As for touch bases, you want to schedule these within the first two weeks of taking over this new team as well.  You have to decide if you are going to have weekly or biweekly touch bases with each direct report.  I would recommend that if they have all been in their roles for several years, you do biweekly touch bases.  If they are new to the role, within the past year, start with weekly touch bases.  

The point here is that you have to decide based on the team’s specific needs.  They need to see these touch bases as a time for them to teach you about what they are doing in the business, get your support, and also learn more about you and how you lead.  For them to understand that, you have to tell them that.  So tell them why you are holding touch bases, the purpose they serve, and therefore how often you will be holding them.  

I would recommend that you schedule your touch bases for an hour at a time.  If you end early, that’s great. But you don’t want to go over the allotted time, so schedule these in a way that allows you to end early/on time, but never late.  Show them you respect them by ending on time.

Let’s go back to training plans for a second.  You may be thinking, how do I know what to add to their training plan next?  The key here is that you will be adding areas of growth for them based on what you are observing in their performance.  

You are in the role or you created this team to improve the business.  That means you are going to raise the bar relative to performance expectations.  When you raise a bar, some will meet it, some will exceed it, and some will not make it.  What you are looking for here is to help a person grow through the changes you are making.  If they are struggling or need to improve in an area, that’s your training plan focus.  Realize though, training plans are not focused solely on underperformance, but simply improved performance.  

Think about how you can take training plans and touch bases and apply them to a new team, or even your current team.

Be Legendary!