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Play 2 - Build connections and lay the foundation for solid relationships

Relationships are the key to making anything happen at work, and effective communication paired with trust is the foundation upon which they are built. This is daunting enough when you step into a new role, though you likely have a fair amount of connections to build off of and leverage. If you are a new hire, this can be especially challenging, with few or no connections to leverage.

Start by being proactive in making connections with people; ask your supervisor and peers to introduce you to other people and follow up with those people to get to know them a bit more. One of the most effective ways to build a base level of trust quickly with people is to learn and remember their names and a small detail about them. This is a great way to make a positive first impression and helps yield future productive conversations. Another small measure is following up with any requests you make or questions you ask with a sincere thank you - an email or Slack message works! This also helps build trust and confidence in others that they can depend on you, and you value their time and work.

Another effective way to build trust and establish connections is by offering to take on small tasks and deliver results for others. This has an added benefit of providing a great opportunity to practice receiving and making explicit requests and following through on them. In doing this, you are reinforcing that you are dependable and get the job done. Also, it will be easier in the beginning to dig into something with the team and be more hands on.

Not only will this help build strong bonds quickly with the team, it will also provide you with much needed context about the work itself, the challenges the team faces, and the opportunities for improvement. Furthermore, do not be afraid of sharing work in progress! Not only does this demonstrate that you are following through, you can also gather input and feedback earlier, which can help in course correcting or improving the quality of the final product even more. As time goes on, taking on small tasks will become harder to do as your focus shifts and you delegate more tasks, so take advantage of it while you can!

Action Items

  • Learn about your supervisory peers and proactively make the connections with them, especially if you don’t already have one. In TTS, informal/general , external,TTS-only, Supervisor Circles are organized via Slack each month. Join in when you can.

  • Learn about and connect with any other colleagues who may be directly involved with any work you’ll be responsible for

  • Request invites to all existing meetings that are relevant to you and your role

    • Determine which meetings are important to attend and where your presence will help
    • In the beginning you will likely attend more meetings than you would normally as you continue to build context and relationships. Communicate this to your team, especially if you are joining meetings that your predecessor did not attend
    • It is important to determine which meetings are required for you, which are optional but would benefit from having your presence/lead to more productive outcomes, and those you do not need to attend
    • If you are speaking about anything or are responsible for any action items at the end of the meeting, it is generally helpful to send a quick summary and clearly list what you will accomplish and by when to whoever organized the meeting and/or tasked you with something
  • Participate in some of the day-to-day team activities early on

    • Collaborate with team members on their work (for example, pair programming with engineers if you’re an engineering supervisor)
    • Take on a small, non-critical task to free up team bandwidth on bigger items (for example, conducting code reviews if you’re an engineering supervisor)
  • Follow up conversations with quick emails that summarize everything and clearly list any action items with due dates, and ask clarifying questions if information is not known

Play 2 Reflection Questions

  • Why is building trust important in the leader-follower relationship? What have you seen leaders do to successfully build trust, and what practices might you adopt as your own?
  • What relationship-building strategies have been successful for you in the past, that you might leverage in your new role?

Play 2 Case Studies

  • You have been assigned to supervise a new unit where you and another Supervisor are being tasked with working on projects together. You have worked with this Supervisor previously, and your experience was less-than-stellar. This Supervisor is hard to work with, complains often and uses their influence to bypass rules and processes. How do you build a positive working relationship with this Supervisor without becoming frustrated?
  • You’ve noticed that the time spent during the 1:1’s you schedule has become wasteful. The employees don’t say much during the 1:1’s and have asked you to stop scheduling them, although you feel they are necessary. How might you change your approach, to ensure they are useful for all?
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