Managing an Inherited Team

Posted on: October 13, 2015, by :

Managing inherited teams can be tough, particularly if you inherit under performing staff. On occasion new managers are brought in to implement structure and even encourage attrition. Oftentimes managers are hired to manage using existing structures. This can be a bit unnerving for the manager who discovers that the organization lacks appropriately skilled staff or even a basic performance management system.

Meet with Your Leadership

Begin by drafting an outline of how you propose to handle the situation and meet with your leadership to discuss. You’ll better understand your goals in relation to the performance of your team’s performance and how performance is managed throughout the organization. You can also use this time to discover the constraints you’ll need to work within as well as identify support mechanisms that you can leverage. It’s time for individual and group conversations with staff once you’ve had the conversation with your leadership and you’ve agreed on how you will approach your role.

Leadership is the single most important driver of organizational performance.

Understand your leadership’s goals and the extent to which they will empower you to implement the changes necessary to improve performance. Your effectiveness will be directly impacted by your leadership so the sooner you understand how their role correlates to yours, the sooner you can begin the work necessary to move the team forward.

Recognize Constraints and What Can Be Leveraged

mirrorOne of your goals should be to strive to create an environment in which employees can achieve superior performance. Use this as the basis for your actions. Your effectiveness will be impacted by how staff were managed in the past so have conversations to understand how work gets accomplished independently and together. Learn about the people and the processes. Strive to understand the culture and gather input from as many sources as possible. Talk with staff, customers and supporters and read files and reports. Know your numbers and how staff performance contributes to the bottom line. Do your homework to understand history but keep it in perspective and be forward-thinking about the team and what can be accomplished.

Strive to create an environment in which employees can achieve superior performance.

Communicate Openly

We hear a lot about the need for communication and transparency. Never is this more important than when managing inherited staff—staff who will be managed differently than in the past. Let the staff know their goals and how their performance will be managed as soon as possible. Be specific and invest the time to ensure staff understand their goals and the goals for the team and the organization. Then provide them with the guidance and resources necessary to support the achievement of goals. Ensure they also understand the repercussions for non-compliance. This may involve implementing a performance management system.

Getting All of the Work Done

Handling the daily work load to serve customers through the creation of products or offering services may be a full-time job. Planning to implement changes such as a performance management system or other large initiatives directly related to performance such as job description updates or work flow studies may seem overwhelming. You could plan the work in phases and break the work down into more manageable chucks with objectives to be achieved within specific time frames. Another approach involves creating a task force with representation from throughout the organization. This group could then use a phased approach for completing the work. Contact me today at for more information on management or how to plan your workload to achieve results.

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