New Leader? Building Rapport with Your Clinical Team

The first 30 days in any new leadership role can be critical in establishing rapport with your clinical team. It’s especially vital for temporary positions because you don’t have the luxury of time to build your connections slowly. As directors and managers of acute services or post-acute leaders in the C-suite or executive level, you want to hit the ground running and need to quickly develop a solid working relationship with your colleagues and subordinates.

Here’s how to build rapport with your clinical team during the first 30 days of your new leadership role.


Show them your human side. If you have a hobby you’re passionate about, mention that near the beginning of your bio for staff. Bring a few photos or personal mementos to your office to give people a glimpse of who they’ll be working with.


Schedule one-on-one time. Having facetime with each member of your team as soon as possible upon taking up your new position can facilitate a smooth transition. See if you can get these scheduled before your arrival, so you can have the personal meetings within your first couple of weeks.


Seek to understand first. During your one-on-one time, ask questions to gain perspective and insights into the person and their position. Carry these questions through to all your interactions to show you’re both curious and want to understand how things are and what needs they have.


Practice active listening skills. Active listening involves paying attention, showing you’re listening, providing feedback, deferring judgment and responding appropriately. Give your team room to express their experiences, concerns and ideas while listening with empathy and respect.


Tell them how you like to work. Letting them know how best to work with you will set them up for success and relieve their stress of having to guess what to do. For example, you might prefer short email summaries at the end of each shift versus a verbal check-in.


Be willing to do the work. Yes, you’re in a leadership role now, but one of the best ways to earn the respect and trust of your new team is to be willing to pitch in on the hands-on work when necessary. If you see something that needs to be done but everyone else is busy with other tasks, step in and complete the job if appropriate.


Empower your team. Most likely, the staff have been doing their jobs for a while, so let them know you have an open-door policy to hear from them. Their ideas and suggestions on how to better the workplace will likely be insightful and useful, so empowering them to be part of the change could result in a positive work environment.


Be confident. You’re in this role because you have the skills and experience to make a difference. Use your confidence to make quick and easy changes to improve their experience and build trust that you have their best interest at heart.


The first month of any job is critical, but especially when you’re in a short-term leadership position. Use these suggestions to quickly build a good foundation with your clinical team.


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