The Young Leader
my name is Domenico and I am a new member in the group.
I have been a software developer for all my career and one month ago, I started my first real leadership role managing a small software development team.
I am excited about the challenges and new things that I will need to learn.
However, it has not been a smooth start. The old team leader is a consultant that has been let go when I started. She was left in the role for onboarding me and will leave the company in less than 2 weeks.
Since the start, she created a kind of hostile work environment making clear that was her team and making difficult to build a relationship with the other members of the team.
I totally understand that she might not be angry with me directly but because I am replacing her. However, I am afraid that all this hostile would create a bad start of my leadership role with my team.
Do you have any suggestions/advice about how to handle such a start in a leadership role?
What can I do in these two weeks to smooth the situation and what would suggest should I do once the consultant has left the company?
Have a great evening and get after it!
Are you newly hired to the company or you are been promoted? If promoted do you have existing relationship with the team members?
In terms of advise - I've been in a few similar positions. Depending on the team size and the project you may "just" do PRs and attend meetings with the product, clarify the requirements and explain to the team what and how the product/project should shape out. If you are Tech Lead it is not that 'dramatic', but for Team Lead or Engineering Manager - you can expect more incidents and helping / growing / mentoring the team members than writing code. This was the big one with me when I first took a more leadership role. Over time it will grow on you :). Is your team cross functional or just developers?
Hey, Domenico. First off, congrats on the new role.
My guess is this situation will mostly take care of itself if you do the things you know you need to do as leader. Given your interactions so far, it sounds like this person may have had some gaps in how the lead .If they're not being mature in handling this situation, it's probably not the first incident.
The former boss being let go probably isn't a surprise to the people you will oversee. They may have some loyalists, but no one is impressed by someone trying to sabotage someone else. If it's as obvious as you're describing it, those people will notice, too.
The biggest things I see are not to let your ego take over and cause you to get defensive and lower yourself to their level. If you rise above it and brush off any comments this person makes or attempts to mess-up relationships, and just go on as if it wasn't happening, all will be fine.
It might be a bummer of a two weeks, but once you're passed this, it's just a matter of showing up day-after-day and being the best leader you can be. If you are reliable and treat your team with respect, they'll almost always come around no matter what situation you fall into.
Domenico... I'm seeing this a little late, as you probably only have 4-5 days remaining in the "Negative Nelly" days. If I had read this earlier I would have encouraged you to seek counsel in your leadership given the situation at hand. I'm not certain about your organization, but in my organization even if you're on your way out we do not tolerate this type of behavior. I would have asked leadership that they advance her two-week notice and let her go immediately. This would have given you the opportunity to learn the role from the team, as well as identify how you can best support them in your new position. It might not be a bad technique to employ even with a few days of the previous regimes tenure left. Build those team bonds as best you can... You do have time working on your side (and everyone else is staying to do the work too!)
Hope that helps... If you'd like to chat offline PM me. I'd also love to see an update as to what you've done?
So understand that individual, good leader or bad, still clearly cares about that team and isn't ready to let go, but she being let go. To smooth that situation over, I wold approach that situation with a simple embrace. She clearly has an ego problem, so you're going to have to get her off the defense. Simply approach her with "I know that you really care about this team, I can see that" "I want to make sure I'm a good leader for this team". If you need direct help from her or not, you still need to gain trust from the rest of your team and if you're worried about them not buying into you after she leaves, then use her to your advantage.
Great to read your answer. It is exactly what I did, I tried to smooth out the situation with her and have some clarification so that we could work in the best way possible for the team and the mission.
Now, it is up to me to create these bonds with the team and help them as much as I can to achieve our mission.
I talked to my leadership and they were very supportive.
However, I preferred to talk to the other person and try to smooth out the situation in a way that we could work better together for the best of the team.
It worked well. Trying to detach from my emotion and understand her position was helpful.
I still have so much to learn as a leader, but step by step I will get there.
Thank you for your support!
I am newly hired and I had no previous relationship with the team members. It is just a team of developers at the moment.
The two week passed and I figure it out how to work out the issue. I didn't let my ego take over and trying to do my best!
Not writing code on daily bases is hard for a software developer, but I will get used to it! I like these new kind of challenges in the leadership path!
One more thing that might be of help to you - in most companies the Tech lead (if I remember correctly from the online meetings) is not expected to be 'people manager', there are usually Scrum Master or Team Lead / Engineering Manager that is taking care of all the fun stuff like 1 on 1 meetings, approving holidays, budgets and so on. I'm saying that just to point there might be an other person you have to 'play the game' with, don't clash egos etc. As newly hired try to understand the current dynamic before changing for the better and as usual try to not step on any toes 🙂
Glad to hear it. Don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake with your people, too. It's going to happen. Just have to take it in stride and learn from it.
Best wishes on this work and would be great to hear an update down the road.