In a recent conversation with a General Manager, he mentioned that, if he knew there was a significant change coming up for his company, he would organise extra ‘team building’ to help people get through it. His idea of team building was to organise a lawn bowls day, maybe give everyone a free day off and offer them company time to work on the Not for Profit of their choice. He knew that these things didn’t change anything but didn’t understand why.
His mistake is a common one; the idea that, by giving people something, they will feel more positive about work and therefore more able to cope with whatever happens there. If only we were that uncomplicated.
James trained as a builder and worked on large construction projects for years. In his mid-30s, with two young children and a sore back, James decided he needed to change his role. When a Project Management role was advertised within the company he worked for, James applied and was successful. Two years later I caught up with him and he spent an hour telling me how hard his job was. It wasn’t the technical aspects of the role but managing his team, working with his peers and communicating with his bosses.
It is a common story; people (usually men) who no longer want to work ‘on the tools’ in the construction or mining industry put up their hands to be Project Managers. They are given a team and a project and sent forth to prosper. With an increasing number of infrastructure and construction projects getting the green light, the demand for Project and Programme Managers is growing.
There’s a lot to take in when you take on a new leadership role. Whether you are new to the organisation and facing a steep learning curve, or it’s an internal step up and you are navigating new dynamics with your colleagues, it’s important to pause and prepare a plan before jumping in. These are three mistakes we’ve seen made time and again by new leaders – typically three important things that they DON’T do in the rush to establish their new role.