Final Draft: A guide for new managers to integrate into a well-bonded team

Introduction
The dynamic nature of the Meeting, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) industry requires one to be highly versatile as the work environment could be very volatile. As the work is often fast-paced and unpredictable, effective communication and strong interpersonal skills often play a central role in facilitating greater job efficiency within a team. These skills become even more crucial when the team is faced with tight project deadlines, as such skills will reduce the likelihood for miscommunication and misunderstanding, therefore allowing for a seamless event delivery.

 Project Thematic Focus
Although a team may be well-oiled, the situation may change abruptly if the team leader is removed from the group. The remaining team members would now be expected to work with and provide support to a new team leader, resulting in a rise of discomfort or even unhappiness. Similarly, the new team leader would feel some resistance or reluctant when attempting to command respect from the team. This is made tougher as the team may have set a benchmark for what they deem as a “good” leader.

The challenge of interpersonal communication arises when the new leader, or manager, is not accustomed to the team’s working style. This may lead the team to view the manager as being uninterested in “blending in” or it may even induce them to “outcast” the manager, causing the team to become divided. In other circumstances, team members may also choose to resign if they feel displaced or are no longer recognised. This can be highly destructive for the team as it not only affects their communication, it will also impact the overall team dynamics, efficiency, productivity, morale and ultimately, bottom-line. The low quality of work output could consequently jeopardize the organisation operating performance.

Objective and Scope of Study
This study will identify several approaches by which new managers can adopt when attached to a new team. The principles discussed in the study will help new team managers understand the concept behind the act of nurturing a healthy relationship with their new colleagues. The principles also aims to minimize the attrition rate faced by organisations, which will eventually result in overall financial savings, in term of cost in hiring and training of new staff.

The N.I.E Principle
The team has developed a framework for new managers to bridge their relationship with new team members by adopting the ‘N.I.E’ principles. N.I.E represents noble goals, interdependence and empathy.

Noble goals refer to the commitment of actions by the manager to serve the colleague while upholding certain ideals and integrity. The implementation of noble goal requires values of both the manager and team member to be aligned in order to shape the long-term strategy of the team. Most importantly, the action does not carry any bias against anyone within the team (Berman-Rubera, 2012). The purpose of exercising this principle is to ensure that the manager takes into consideration how he can assist each employee to achieve their ultimate goals, instead of just focusing on his own personal growth.

Secondly, interdependence refers to the manager’s consciousness of how their actions can later impact his team. Interdependence is important as it can impact the degree and quality of interaction shared between team members (Campion, Medsker, & Higgs 1993). Research has also shown that when a team perceive their goals are positively aligned to the manager, they will be more motivated to find ways in which mutual goals can be achieved (Deutsch, 1973). This would consequently result in an integration of ideas which would create an avenue for the team and the managers to engage in more team learning activities together (Runhaar et. al, 2014). Findings from a survey conducted by Fierce, Inc (2011) has shown that 90-percent of respondents believe that decision makers (i.e. managers) should seek out other opinion before making a final decision. However, almost 40-percent felt that their managers has failed to exercise such practice.

Lastly, a manager who exercises empathy is required to use his emotional awareness to guide him when making choices. A manager with the ability to empathize with his colleagues will show that he is not focused purely on the results, but instead, include the feelings of his fellow team mate. Research has shown that managers need to exercise  empathy to show their team members that he cares for their needs and achievement (Bass, 1985). Fortunately, empathy can be learned as it is not a fixed trait (Shapiro, 2002). With sufficient time and training, managers can develop and enhance their empathy skills in order to be a better manager.

Implementing the Principles
When entering a new team, the manager should conduct a self-introduction of himself and display enthusiasm and interest in getting to know his fellow team member. This includes finding out and understanding each team member’s strengths and weaknesses (or perhaps what they don’t enjoy doing). By doing so, the manager outlines how he could equip each team member to grow and improve on their weaknesses, while continuing to develop on their strength.

To discern team members’ personal working style and attitude towards the job, the manager is encouraged to sit down with the employee and have a one-to-one conversation outside of the job parameter. By doing so, the manager demonstrates that everyone has a part to play in shaping a team setting, and everybody’s actions can affect the team’s performance one way or another.

As a manager, he must also understand that his decisions will have implications on the team. If the decision made is not aligned with the team members, it may affect the project outcome (short-term), or the interpersonal relationship between the team and him (long term).

As every individual has their own feelings and problems, it is essential for the manager to show empathy towards each of the team member. By doing so, the manager shows that he is trying to place himself into their shoes to understand their point of view or concern before jumping into conclusion.

Ultimately, the performance of the whole team will reflect the manager’s ability to perform. Hence, as the team lead, it is essential that the team does well and progresses together.

Benefits to the workplace
The application of the N.I.E principles will assist a new manager to assimilate well into an existing well-bonded team. This would support the formation of an efficacious team who are able to work collectively to meet tight project deadlines and tough organisational demands. The easy relationship between team members and the team lead would also culminate in a highly effective and efficient team. Thus, the N.I.E principles help improve the overall team dynamics, efficiency, productivity and morale which was highlighted earlier.

Research Methodology
The study is also supported with primary research data. An interview was conducted with Mr Johnny Yip, operations manager of Singapore Polytechnic Graduate Guild, who have had experience in joining a well-integrated team. The thoughts and views shared on the importance of integrating well into a new team resonates with the N.I.E principles that was discussed above.

Concluding Thoughts
The turnover rate in the hospitality industry is high and this applies to the MICE sector as well. As a result, more attentions need to be directed into this area so that incoming managers can better integrate into the existing team. In doing so, it will help to mitigate employees’ attrition, which can be very expensive and time consuming for the organisation to hire and re-train new staff. The N.I.E principles assist organisations, especially those in the hospitality industry, to address this situation and rehabilitate it to increase the overall efficiency of the organisation.

References:

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press

Berman-Rubera, S. (2012). 100 Tips to Small Business Results: Tips and Case Studies to Grow Business Owners and Propel Revenue. Massachusetts: AuthorHouse

Campion, M. A., G. J. Medsker, and A. C. Higgs. (1993.) Relations Between Work Group Characteristics and Effectiveness: Implications for Designing Effective Work Groups. Personnel Psychology, 46, pp. 823–850.

Deutsch, M. (1973.) The resolution of conflict. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Fierce, Inc. . (2011, May 23). 86 Percent of Employees Cite Lack of Collaboration for Workplace Failures [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=7D57A149346F416786E26A3F91521F69&CID=1B71ABFFCDBF6990391FA1B9CC8E685E&rd=1&h=UeKPO2sWbcXFaIBjEfUyJTvgKLzwhD5_HeoZ5fsZLTA&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fwww.fierceinc.com%2fuploads%2fpdfs%2fpress%2f20110603_fierce_Survey_VILT_Press_Release.pdf&p=DevEx,5074.1

Runhaar, P., Brinke, D. T., Kuijpers, M., Wesselink, R., & Mulder, M. (2014). Exploring the links between interdependence, team learning and a shared understanding among team members: the case of teachers facing an educational innovation. Human Resource Development International, 17(1), pp. 67-87

Shaprio, J. (2002). How do physicians teach empathy in the primary care setting? Academic Medicine, 77, pp. 323–328.

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