Elite AgentProductivity & Best Practice

Your first two weeks as a leader: Sarah Dawson

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘A new broom sweeps clean’ – but it’s not always easy to know when the best time is to introduce change. Sarah Dawson examines what to do (and not to do) if you've just stepped up into a leadership role.

Managing people and leading a team – it’s a career goal that most aspire to. For some it’s considered the ultimate achievement; you’ve made it when you have a team of people looking to you for guidance every day. For others it’s a terrifying experience as they move from an operational role to a whole new ball game.

The first two weeks are crucial. Opinions are formed, emotions are high and unfortunately this is the time that most want to prove capability. Yet this is actually the time you shouldn’t do anything, except the following.

Be humble

Spending time with each team, from reception through to the CEO, means there are small wins in every direction. Listen to client contact and learn the queries your team deal with every day. Spend time studying the company history so you can understand the passion behind the business. Ask as many questions as possible.
You have a lot of respected experience – that’s why you’re there – but this is a new space!

Organise a team event

A lunch, a casual catch-up, time for coffee and a chat. Get to know the team on a personal level. Seek to understanding their motivations; what they like, what they don’t like. Provide a space where people can relax and get to know you and where they can feel comfortable to share. Change is always confronting. They are nervous too!

For some it’s the ultimate achievement; you’ve made it when you have a team of people looking to you for guidance every day.

Don’t take notes

Wait until the end of the meeting, or the end of the day, and capture the key points that have stayed with you. Frantic note-taking can be comforting for you, but not so much for the person who is trying to hold your attention. What percentage of our notes do we actually review and rely on? Use your time with people engaging in their enthusiasm to share. Providing full attention will help stimulate the conversation.

Organise a team event

A lunch, a casual catch-up, time for coffee and a chat. Get to know the team on a personal level. Seek to understand their motivations; what they like, what they don’t like. Provide a space where people can relax and get to know you and where they can feel comfortable to share. Change is always confronting. They are nervous too!

Don’t change anything

It’s normal to see a potential win and want to dive in, but true understanding takes time. There are always a lot of mechanics around the ‘why’ – why is it this way? What else would a change affect?

It’s often easy to assume a change will provide immediate impact, but the risk is not understanding what the impact might be – whether that’s to the team or other processes. You don’t know until you feel comfortable with the bigger picture. Set yourself a two-month restriction and then make well-informed decisions.

No one is perfect; we all do our best with the tools we have onboard. We can learn so much from our peers and colleagues. As a leader, the ability to tap into those around us and encourage them to feel confident and empowered to share their skill set will promote success for everyone.

My advice for the first two months is listen, learn and leverage!

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Sarah Dawson

Sarah Dawson is the Head of Growth at Real+. For more information visit realplus.com.au.

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