DO learn the “Local Culture”
Race and nationality do play a significant part in how teams operate—especially for multinational teams. Even a project management team in the center of North America might have some operational quirks depending on the team’s cultural makeup. A team with a predominantly German culture will work differently from one with a strong Japanese influence, for example.
Ideally, you should know about the team’s local culture even before accepting the job. That way, you can just cut the interview process short if their work culture doesn’t match with yours. No need for messy resignations two weeks after you sign up.
DON’T compare to past experience
Your past experience is valuable, and I’m sure that you could carry some valuable lessons over from it, but be very careful about how you voice your comparisons. Negative comparisons like “in my old company, we used to do it this way” might be meant as constructive criticism, but you also risk offending your new peers and sounding obnoxious. Especially coming from a new guy who probably doesn’t know the entire situation. A system that might seem inefficient to you at first might actually be the ideal work process for your new team.
DON’T shake the boat… at first
One common mistake many new leaders commit is making sweeping changes the moment they step into the new office. They generalize based on quick observations and snap judgments on how things are supposed to run. Then the change blows up in their face, and they lose the trust of the team, the client, and management.
When you start in a new organization, take the time to learn the lay of the land before you move things around. That way, you’ll be able to make changes that have a higher chance of working and being accepted by the team.
DO go the extra mile
Project managers are supposed to do this anyway, but it’s even more vital that you do this at the start of your tenure. You are trying to establish credibility with your team and the client, and to show them that you can walk the walk. Win them over by showing you’re an effective worker, and they’ll be accept your leadership sooner.
DO get personal
Don’t be satisfied with a quick roll call at the start of your first meeting. Take people out to lunch. Chat at their desks. Ask them about one another. And most of all, be sincere. You’ll get more out of your team by being speaking to them on a personal level rather than lording it over your new dominion.
Image credit, Flickr, DonkeyHotey