You’re being ‘Sussed Out’, so tackle it head on
When you’re the new boss, your team and colleagues will be ‘sussing you out’, assessing your every move and forming their conclusions over the first few weeks – I mean, as curious beings, that’s inevitable isn’t it?
But, have you also considered that you tend to be a bit different in those first days, weeks and months, as you’re climbing the learning curve and working out what’s what and who’s who?
And therefore, whilst you’re all ‘sussing each other out’ and navigating this new situation, it might be happening against a reality that isn’t really the norm. During this initial period, no-one is completely being themselves, and some behaviours might be out of character.
I’ve certainly been stung by this in the past, and feedback from those situations led me to a whole new strategy in future ‘new role’ situations. And that involved speaking openly about the ‘sussing out’ phase right at the start.
Get on the front foot
When we go into a new job, particularly if it’s a promotion, new team or a whole new organisation, there is always a lack of familiarity and the reality is, people will be naturally suspicious and cautious until they know they can trust you. And you might be just the same!
I’ve had hundreds of conversations in coaching sessions, where leaders have confirmed the benefit of getting on the front foot with their team when it comes to starting well.
It might even be uncomfortable for you and your team at the start, whilst you are sussing each other out – so, why not address it and talk openly about it?
Understandably, people may be guarded, suspicious even and as leaders we need to understand that this typically comes from a place of fear – of change, for their job security, and more… Naturally, people always try and suss out whether their new boss is right for them, and as a result, they are probably making decisions about their own future on the back of that.
It takes time to establish relationships, build trust, and get to know each other’s working styles and preferences. Add in the fact that everyone is on their best behaviour, or has their guard up, at the beginning and it can make it a challenging task.
Your self awareness and communication can accelerate building relationships
One of the key things I chat to my clients about is creating deep self-awareness of how they are different in the first 2-3 months of a new job vs longer term.
That period when they are climbing a learning curve, working things out, building relationships, and carving out their role in the way they want it to be.
What does that mean for their team? Will there be more questions, more requests, less empowerment, for example?
If they don’t know I’ll encourage them to speak to current and previous teams to explore this.
It could be that you get feedback from people who have worked for you previously – asking:
- What was their experience of working with you?
- What was their initial impression of you?
- How did their initial impression change over the first three months? And, how did it change over time?
7 Prompts To Talk About With Your New Team
There is real power in demonstrating self-awareness and transparency with your new team. My recommendation is that one of the first things to do is to articulate your insights about this initial period – the phase in which you’re all sussing each other out.
I’ve got 7 prompts for you, and if you can answer and explain each of these to your team, you’ll be off to a great start.
This is how you will find me initially – explain your style as you’re getting up to speed, learning, and forming new relationships.
This is how you’ll find me longer term – share what your leadership style tends to be like once you’re up the learning curve and have good relationships in place.
This is the environment I will be fostering – explain what type of culture you like to work in and create within your team, and what you’ll be doing to work towards that.
This is what you can do to help me – enable people to accelerate your learning by telling them what helps (and hinders) you.
These are the questions I’m trying to answer quickly – share your priorities and explain why you might be digging into some areas more than others.
My values are this – share your core values, why they are important to you, and how they show up in your behaviour at work.
This is who I am once you take the job title away – share what you are comfortable to share about the real you, in and outside of work.
Consider these conversations just as important as the ones about objectives, priorities, and you getting to know each of your team.
The more you share of yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll receive the same transparency from those around you. And with that comes quicker relationship formation, and the surfacing of any issues that need to arise.
I can help
Starting well in a new job is an increasingly common objective for coaching support.