19 July 2023 |

inheriting a team?

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

The Basics

If you’re inheriting a team, chances are it’s 1 of 3 scenarios:

  • Outside hire – you’re coming in with some level of management experience, but new to the company
  • Internal promotion – you’re moving from an individual contributor role to managing reps who used to be your peers
  • Internal transfer – you’ve started managing a different team at the same company, i.e. move from managing an SMB team to managing a MM team.

Each of these scenarios comes with nuanced challenges:

Outside hire: Beyond what your boss has shared about your team, you’re coming in completely blind. The biggest trap for outside hires: coming in with an agenda or a playbook that’s worked at other companies but isn’t a fit for the inherited team. (*Cue internal thrashing*)

Internal promotion: The two biggest challenges you’ll face are 1) shifting the mindset from that of an IC to a manager and, 2) managing the relational shift as peers become reports. Oh – imposter syndrome may be a thing too!

Internal transfer: You’re probably aware of what’s happening on the team and may have relationships with the people you’re going to manage. The challenge you’ll face: getting up to speed quickly on the specific team dynamics.

No matter the scenario you find yourself in, you should have 3 top priorities:

  • Get acquainted with your team
  • Know your do’s and don’ts
  • Take appropriate action

Getting acquainted

Tl;dr: You need to get to know your team and your team needs to get to know you!

Two things to do right away are have a team kickoff and start building rapport with your folks.

For your team kickoff – schedule a 45-60 min meeting with your team during the first week of your new role. In the agenda, include the following sections:

  • An “About Me” section about who you are outside of work; this section should shed a light on your personality, your interests and hobbies, and the non-work relationships you care about.
  • A “My Why” section that shares why you’re in leadership; this section should help people understand your motivations for leading people. I.e. driven by supporting others. 
  • Your 30-60-90 day plan
  • What your team can expect from you
  • What you expect from your team
  • Time for Q+A

I won’t dig into building rapport here because *tada* – it was covered in last week’s Psychological Safety Announcement!

Know the do’s and don’ts

Tl;dr: Haste makes waste. Slow and steady wins the race.

The biggest misstep managers who inherit a team make is coming in guns blazing, making assumptions and rolling out new programs, processes and policies, without first understanding what they’re working with. *Yuck*.

If you know the Do’s and Don’ts of inheriting a team, you can avoid that trap!


  • Roll out a playbook without first understanding if that playbook is relevant for the team you’ve inherited
  • Rush to take actions that can significantly disrupt your team
  • Underestimate the insights and knowledge your team can equip you with


  • Focus on getting up to speed in your new role
  • Interview your reps (see New Manager Questionnaire below)
  • Shadow your people to get a better understanding of their workflows
  • Explore opportunities to make to impact
  • Get your team’s feedback on areas to prioritize

Here are questions to get you started on learning about your team.

When you take time to understand what kind of team you have and leverage intel from your reps toinform your decisions, you build a foundation of trust and get faster buy-in  from your team!

🏀 Assist: Send out the New Manager Questionnaire questions via survey. Once your reps have completed the survey, schedule a 30-45 minute session to review responses.

Take action

Tl;dr: People don’t get fatigued about giving feedback — they get lack of action fatigue

Being the amazing manager (or aspiring manager) that you are, you’ll have done an amazing job at understanding your reps’ workflows and collecting their feedback on ways to improve their performance and work experience.

The next – and most important – step is to create an action plan your reps will buy into!

To do this, consider taking the following steps:

  • Surface themes and trends to your team
  • Ask your team for their input on which areas to prioritize and why
  • Create an action plan that considers your team’s feedback
  • Communicate your action plan and what your team should expect 
  • Update your team as you work your plan

🏀Assist: Use discernment when incorporating your team’s feedback. You’ll want to make sure you’re taking the full picture into consideration – timing, budget, rules of engagement, etc. If your reps are asking for something you know isn’t feasible in the short- to midterm (or ever), make sure you let them know that and share the why behind it.

Acing the First 90 Days

When you’re able to take the time to really understand what you’re working with, you’ll put yourself in a position to build trust with your team faster. You’ll also lower the risk of rolling out ineffective or ill suited programs, preserving your credibility. 

Take the time to really assess – without assumptions or judgments – what you’re working with, and you’ll stand a better chance of making the kind of impact you aspire to have…and the kind of impact your team needs.
Alllssoo, remember to tune in next week where I’ll answer the question “How do I approach building or maintaining team identity while managing significant change?