Is it easier to have a bunch of people that are brand new to a team, or one that you mould from those you inherit?
In my business life I only had the latter. An existing group of employees, in each business who I had to work with, from each new day one. Never a new set that I could grow for myself.
There are different challenges in each case.
With an existing team you have to challenge and change ideas and behaviours set in their ways, unchallenged, sometimes for years. You run the risk that they have had poor experiences of what good quality performance is – or, as they say, what ‘good looks like’. This may not be good at all – not necessarily their fault though as no-one showed them differently!
In every business management I had, the outgoing manager was either leaving the business, retiring or being demoted. In one store I managed I was the first manager to be promoted out of there since the war!
That meant that whilst I had the numbers in place with some experience, it was quite a challenge to ensure that they came on board quickly, with what my own ideas of good performance and business delivery were.
Like a new football manager, I had to gradually change the personnel until they fit the team I wanted, with the exception of those who were prepared to change and develop. However, there were rare opportunities to transfer anyone out and definitely not for a fee.
Occasionally someone might seriously transgress (like the supervisor who, I found out, regularly sent her staff out to the supermarket to do her weekly food shop for her – in business time – I demoted her to the ranks and she never showed up again!).
In developing a new team from scratch, the challenges are still significant. Their skills and understanding of organisational processes can be lacking, especially if new recruits to the organisation. Yet these individuals aren’t tarnished with poor behaviours, inherited from past underperforming models in the management hierarchy.
I don’t know, as I never had a brand new team.
Yet, in both cases, it is vital to set in stone standards that are clearly stated and as rigid as necessary to deliver the quality outputs the business needs. In both cases it is vital that the incoming manager is able to be the best example possible.
Then sticking firmly to the path, with consistency, fairness as well as building trusting relationships is the only way to success. There will be ups and downs, with failures and omissions, but this will guide you through successfully in the end.
With such a template, both types of team will work well and deliver outstanding results.